Dynamics of entanglement and transport in 1D systems with quenched randomness


Quenched randomness can have a dramatic effect on the dynamics of isolated 1D quantum many-body systems, even for systems that thermalize. This is because transport, entanglement, and operator spreading can be hindered by `Griffiths' rare regions which locally resemble the many-body-localized phase and thus act as weak links. We propose coarse-grained models for entanglement growth and for the spreading of quantum operators in the presence of such weak links. We also examine entanglement growth across a single weak link numerically. We show that these weak links have a stronger effect on entanglement growth than previously assumed: entanglement growth is sub-ballistic whenever such weak links have a power-law probability distribution at low couplings, i.e. throughout the entire thermal Griffiths phase. We argue that the probability distribution of the entanglement entropy across a cut can be understood from a simple picture in terms of a classical surface growth model. Surprisingly, the four length scales associated with (i) production of entanglement, (ii) spreading of conserved quantities, (iii) spreading of operators, and (iv) the width of the `front' of a spreading operator, are characterized by dynamical exponents that in general are all distinct. Our numerical analysis of entanglement growth between weakly coupled systems may be of independent interest.Comment: 17 pages, 16 figure

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