Simulation, characterisation and control of open quantum systems dynamics

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In this thesis, we discuss aspects of the simulation, characterisation, and control of the dynamics of open quantum systems. The latter are systems governed by quantum mechanical laws and interacting with an environment, which is typically much larger than the system itself. According to the standard approach, one is usually able to perform a suitable average over the environmental degrees of freedom, resulting in an effective description of the main system dynamics, which accounts for the effects of the interaction with the surroundings. In standard scenarios, usually studied within the so-called Born-Markov approximation, the system-environment coupling is weak and such that we can perform a neat separation of timescales: the environmental dynamics is assumed to be fast compared to the typical evolution timescale of the system of interest. However, nowadays we are able to inspect physical scenarios where the usual Born-Markov approximation breaks down: the interaction between system and environment can be strong, likely leading to non-negligible memory (non-Markovian) effects.

In this work, we discuss some instances in which we cannot work in the standard Born-Markov regime. We introduce and analyse some numerical and analytical techniques to characterise and simulate non-standard scenarios. We show that, even in the Markovian regime, the traditional formulation of thermodynamic irreversibility shows flaws and inconsistencies. We thus use phase-space methods to assess the role of initial correlations shared by the two parties of a bipartite harmonic system in the entropy production rate, including non-Markovian effects. Furthermore, we show that certain interactions enable to redraw the boundaries between the system and the environment in an effective manner, resulting in a new picture where the system degrees of freedom are augmented, while the residual environment is rearranged in such a way that the Born-Markov approximation is recovered. This analytical technique, known as reaction coordinate mapping approach, is employed in this work to show that, upon an accurate choice of the parameter regime, a spin-boson model can serve as a quantum analogue simulator of non-Markovian multiphoton Jaynes-Cummings models. These systematic studies shed light on the thermodynamic characterisation of open quantum systems, as well as on their numerical simulation.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsMarie Sklodowska Curie COFUND & Northern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorMauro Paternostro (Supervisor)


  • Open quantum systems
  • quantum thermodynamics
  • quantum correlations
  • quantum simulations
  • quantum information
  • quantum optics

Cite this