Sub-exponential spin-boson decoherence in a finite bath

V. Wong, M. Gruebele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the decoherence of a two-level system coupled to harmonic baths of 4-21 degrees of freedom, to baths with internal anharmonic couplings, and to baths with an additional 'solvent shell' (modes coupled to other bath modes, but not to the system). The discrete spectral densities are chosen to mimic the highly fluctuating spectral densities computed for real systems such as proteins. System decoherence is computed by exact quantum dynamics. With realistic parameter choices (finite temperature, reasonably large couplings), sub-exponential decoherence of the two-level system is observed. Empirically, the time-dependence of decoherence can be fitted by power laws with small exponents. Intrabath anharmonic couplings are more effective at smoothing the spectral density and restoring exponential dynamics, than additional bath modes or solvent shells. We conclude that at high temperature, the most important physical basis for exponential decays is anharmonicity of those few bath modes interacting most strongly with the system, not a large number of oscillators interacting with the system. We relate the current numerical simulations to models of anharmonically coupled oscillators, which also predict power law dynamics. The potential utility of power law decays in quantum computation and condensed phase coherent control are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Physics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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