Observing quantum chaos with noisy measurements and highly mixed states

2017-03-01T09:35:07Z (GMT) by J.F. Ralph Kurt Jacobs Mark Everitt
A fundamental requirement for the emergence of classical behavior from an underlying quantum description is that certain observed quantum systems make a transition to chaotic dynamics as their action is increased relative to ℏ. While experiments have demonstrated some aspects of this transition, the emergence of quantum trajectories with a positive Lyapunov exponent has never been observed directly. Here, we remove a major obstacle to achieving this goal by showing that, for the Duffing oscillator, the transition to a positive Lyapunov exponent can be resolved clearly from observed trajectories even with measurement efficiencies as low as 20%. We also find that the positive Lyapunov exponent is robust to highly mixed, low-purity states and to variations in the parameters of the system.