Dannenberg, Alia
(Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
In the thesis I study various quantum coherence phenomena and create some of the foundations for a systematic coherence theory. So far, the approach to quantum coherence in science has been purely phenomenological. In my thesis I try to answer the question what quantum coherence is and how it should be approached within the framework of physics, the metatheory of physics and the terminology related to them. It is worth noticing that quantum coherence is a conserved quantity that can be exactly defined. I propose a way to define quantum coherence mathematically from the density matrix of the system.
Degenerate quantum gases, i.e., Bose condensates and ultracold Fermi systems, form a good laboratory to study coherence, since their entropy is small and coherence is large, and thus they possess strong coherence phenomena. Concerning coherence phenomena in degenerate quantum gases, I concentrate in my thesis mainly on collective association from atoms to molecules, Rabi oscillations and decoherence. It appears that collective association and oscillations do not depend on the spin-statistics of particles.
Moreover, I study the logical features of decoherence in closed systems via a simple spin-model. I argue that decoherence is a valid concept also in systems with a possibility to experience recoherence, i.e., Poincaré recurrences. Metatheoretically this is a remarkable result, since it justifies quantum cosmology: to study the whole universe (i.e., physical reality) purely quantum physically is meaningful and valid science, in which decoherence explains why the quantum physical universe appears to cosmologists and other scientists very classical-like.
The study of the logical structure of closed systems also reveals that complex enough closed (physical) systems obey a principle that is similar to Gödel's incompleteness theorem of logic. According to the theorem it is impossible to describe completely a closed system within the system, and the inside and outside descriptions of the system can be remarkably different. Via understanding this feature it may be possible to comprehend coarse-graining better and to define uniquely the mutual entanglement of quantum systems.