Physical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics

Quasistationary distributions of dissipative nonlinear quantum oscillators in strong periodic driving fields

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The dynamics of periodically driven quantum systems coupled to a thermal environment is investigated. The interaction of the system with the external coherent driving field is taken into account exactly by making use of the Floquet picture. Treating the coupling to the environment within the Born-Markov approximation one finds a Pauli-type master equation for the diagonal elements of the reduced density matrix in the Floquet representation. The stationary solution of the latter yields a quasistationary, time-periodic density matrix which describes the long-time behavior of the system. Taking the example of a periodically driven particle in a box, the stationary solution is determined numerically for a wide range of driving amplitudes and temperatures. It is found that the quasistationary distribution differs substantially from a Boltzmann-type distribution at the temperature of the environment. For large driving fields it exhibits a plateau region describing a nearly constant population of a certain number of Floquet states. This number of Floquet states turns out to be nearly independent of the temperature. The plateau region is sharply separated from an exponential tail of the stationary distribution which expresses a canonical Boltzmann-type distribution over the mean energies of the Floquet states. These results are explained in terms of the structure of the matrix of transition rates for the dissipative quantum system. Investigating the corresponding classical, nonlinear Hamiltonian system, one finds that in the semiclassical range essential features of the quasistationary distribution can be understood from the structure of the underlying classical phase space. © 2000 The American Physical Society.