Finite-time quantum-to-classical transition for a Schrödinger-cat state

Janika Paavola, Michael J W Hall, Sabrina Maniscalco, Matteo G. A Paris

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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The transition from quantum to classical, in the case of a quantum harmonic oscillator, is typically identified with the transition from a quantum superposition of macroscopically distinguishable states, such as the Schrödinger-cat state, into the corresponding statistical mixture. This transition is commonly characterized by the asymptotic loss of the interference term in the Wigner representation of the cat state. In this paper we show that the quantum-to-classical transition has different dynamical features depending on the measure for nonclassicality used. Measures based on an operatorial definition have well-defined physical meaning and allow a deeper understanding of the quantum-to-classical transition. Our analysis shows that, for most nonclassicality measures, the Schrödinger-cat state becomes classical after a finite time. Moreover, our results challenge the prevailing idea that more macroscopic states are more susceptible to decoherence in the sense that the transition from quantum to classical occurs faster. Since nonclassicality is a prerequisite for entanglement generation our results also bridge the gap between decoherence, which is lost only asymptotically, and entanglement, which may show a “sudden death.” In fact, whereas the loss of coherences still remains asymptotic, we emphasize that the transition from quantum to classical can indeed occur at a finite time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number012121
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2011


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