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Thursday, January 19, 2017
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
T-DO Conference Room (03-123-121)

Quantum Lunch

Orthogonality Catastrophes in Quantum Electrodynamics

Roberto Merlin
University of Michigan

The insertion of a small polarizable particle in an arbitrarily large optical cavity significantly alters the quantum-mechanical state of the electromagnetic field in that the photon ground state of the empty cavity and that of the cavity with the particle become mutually orthogonal and, thus, cannot be connected adiabatically in the infinite limit. The photon problem can be mapped exactly onto that of a many-body system of fermions, which is known to exhibit an orthogonality catastrophe when a finite-range local potential is introduced. We predict that the motion of polarizable objects inside a cavity, no matter how slow, as well as their addition and removal from the cavity, will generate a macroscopic, diverging number of low-energy photons. The significance of these results in regard to the quantum measurement problem and the dynamical Casimir effect are also discussed.

Host: Diego Dalvit