Accelerating Quantum Decay by Multiple Tunneling Barriers

Pinotti, Ermanno; Longhi, Stefano
Entropy 25, 1345 (1-15) (2023)

A quantum particle constrained between two high potential barriers provides a paradigmatic example of a system sustaining quasi-bound (or resonance) states. When the system is prepared in one of such quasi-bound states, the wave function approximately maintains its shape but decays in time in a nearly exponential manner radiating into the surrounding space, the lifetime being of the order of the reciprocal of the width of the resonance peak in the transmission spectrum. Naively, one could think that adding more lateral barriers would preferentially slow down or prevent the quantum decay since tunneling is expected to become less probable and due to quantum backflow induced by multiple scattering processes. However, this is not always the case and in the early stage of the dynamics quantum decay can be accelerated (rather than decelerated) by additional lateral barriers, even when the barrier heights are arbitrarily large. The decay acceleration originates from resonant tunneling effects and is associated to large deviations from an exponential decay law. We discuss such a counterintuitive phenomenon by considering the hopping dynamics of a quantum particle on a tight-binding lattice with on-site potential barriers

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