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Title: Pure states statistical mechanics : on its foundations and applications to quantum gravity
Author: Anza, Fabio
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 7838
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The project concerns the study of the interplay among quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, in isolated quantum systems. The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of the concept of thermal equilibrium in quantum systems. First, I investigated the role played by observables and measurements in the emergence of thermal behaviour. This led to a new notion of thermal equilibrium which is specific for a given observable, rather than for the whole state of the system. The equilibrium picture that emerges is a generalization of statistical mechanics in which we are not interested in the state of the system but only in the outcome of the measurement process. I investigated how this picture relates to one of the most promising approaches for the emergence of thermal behaviour in quantum systems: the Eigenstate Thermalization Hypothesis. Then, I applied the results to study the equilibrium properties of peculiar quantum systems, which are known to escape thermalization: the many-body localised systems. Despite the localization phenomenon, which prevents thermalization of subsystems, I was able to show that we can still use the predictions of statistical mechanics to describe the equilibrium of some observables. Moreover, the intuition developed in the process led me to propose an experimentally accessible way to unravel the interacting nature of many-body localised systems. Then, I exploited the "Concentration of Measure" and the related "Typicality Arguments" to study the macroscopic properties of the basis states in a tentative theory of quantum gravity: Loop Quantum Gravity. These techniques were previously used to explain why the thermal behaviour in quantum systems is such an ubiquitous phenomenon at the macroscopic scale. I focused on the local properties, their thermodynamic behaviour and interplay with the semiclassical limit. The ultimate goal of this line of research is to give a quantum description of a black hole which is consistent with the expected semiclassical behaviour. This was motivated by the necessity to understand, from a quantum gravity perspective, how and why an horizon exhibits thermal properties.
Supervisor: Vedral, Vlatko Sponsor: University of Oxford ; Foundation "Angelo Della Riccia"
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Quantum Gravity ; Quantum Information ; Thermodynamics ; Black Hole ; Thermalization