Unfolding system-environment correlation in open quantum systems : Revisiting master equations and the Born approximation

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Understanding system-environment correlations in open quantum systems is vital for various quantum information and technology applications. However, these correlations are often overlooked or hidden in derivations of open-quantum-system master equations, especially when applying the Born approximation. To address this issue, given a microscopic model, we demonstrate how to retain system-environment correlation within commonly used master equations, such as the Markovian Lindblad, Redfield, second-order time convolutionless, second-order Nakajima-Zwanzig, and second-order universal Lindblad-like equations. We show that each master equation corresponds to a particular approximation on the system-environment correlation operator. In particular, our analysis exposes the form of the hidden system-environment correlation in the Markovian Lindblad equation derived using the Born approximation. We also identify that the processes leading to the Redfield equation yield an inaccurate initial-time system-environment correlation approximation. By fixing this problem, we propose a corrected Redfield equation with an improved prediction for early stages of the time evolution. We further illustrate our results in two examples, which imply that the second-order universal Lindblad-like equation captures correlation more accurately than the other standard master equations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number013243
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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