Reentrant classicality of a damped system

B. Spreng, G.-L. Ingold und U. Weiss

EPL 103, 60007 (2013) DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/103/60007

For a free particle, the coupling to its environment can be the relevant mechanism to induce quantum behavior as the temperature is lowered. We study general linear environments with a spectral density proportional to ωs at low frequencies and consider in particular the specific heat of the free damped particle. For super-Ohmic baths with s≥2, a reentrant classical behavior is found. As the temperature is lowered, the specific heat decreases from the classical value of kB/2, thereby indicating the appearence of quantum effects. However, the classical value of the specific heat is restored as the temperature approaches zero. This surprising behavior is due to the suppressed density of bath degrees of freedom at low frequencies. For s<2, the specific heat at zero temperature increases linearly with s from -kB/2 to kB/2. An Ohmic bath, s=1, is thus very special in the sense that it represents the only case where the specific heat vanishes at zero temperature.