Time-Evolving Quantum Superpositions in Open Systems and the Rich Content of Coherence Maps

Reshmi Dani, Nancy Makri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discuss the general features of the time-evolving reduced density matrix (RDM) of multistate systems coupled to dissipative environments and show that many important aspects of the dynamics are visualized effectively and transparently through coherence maps, defined as snapshots of the real and imaginary components of the RDM on the square grid of system sites. In particular, the spread, signs, and shapes of the coherence maps collectively characterize the state of the system and the nature of the dynamics, as well as the equilibrium state. The topology of the system is readily reflected in its coherence map. Rows and columns show the composition of quantum superpositions, and their filling indicates the extent of the surviving coherence. Linear combinations of imaginary RDM elements specify instantaneous population derivatives. The main diagonal comprises the incoherent component of the dynamics, while the upper/lower triangular areas give rise to coherent contributions that increase the purity of the RDM. In open systems, the coherence map evolves to a band surrounding the principal diagonal whose width decreases with increasing temperature and dissipation strength. We illustrate these behaviors with examples of 10-site model molecular aggregates with Frenkel exciton couplings, where the electronic states of each monomer are coupled to harmonic vibrational baths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9361-9375
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 17 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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