Spectroscopic probes of isolated nonequilibrium quantum matter: Quantum quenches, Floquet states, and distribution functions
Liao, Yunxiang; Foster, Matthew S.
We investigate radio-frequency (rf) spectroscopy, metal-to-superconductor tunneling, and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) as probes of isolated out-of-equilibrium quantum systems, and examine the crucial role played by the nonequilibrium distribution function. As an example, we focus on the induced topological time-periodic (Floquet) phase in a two-dimensional p+ip superfluid, following an instantaneous quench of the coupling strength. The post-quench Cooper pairs occupy a linear combination of “ground” and “excited” Floquet states, with coefficients determined by the distribution function. While the Floquet band structure exhibits a single avoided crossing relative to the equilibrium case, the distribution function shows a population inversion of the Floquet bands at low energies. For a realization in ultracold atoms, these two features compensate, producing a bulk average rf signal that is well captured by a quasiequilibrium approximation. In particular, the rf spectrum shows a robust gap. The single crossing occurs because the quench-induced Floquet phase belongs to a particular class of soliton dynamics for the BCS equation. The population inversion is a consequence of this, and ensures the conservation of the pseudospin winding number. As a comparison, we compute the rf signal when only the lower Floquet band is occupied; in this case, the gap disappears for strong quenches. The tunneling signal in a solid-state realization is ignorant of the distribution function, and can show wildly different behaviors. We also examine rf, tunneling, and ARPES for weak quenches, such that the resulting topological steady state is characterized by a constant nonequilibrium order parameter. In a system with a boundary, tunneling reveals the Majorana edge states. However, the local rf signal due to the edge states is suppressed by a factor of the inverse system size, and is spatially deconfined throughout the bulk of the sample.