Fundamental Aspects of Quantum Brownian Motion

P. Hänggi and G.-L. Ingold

Chaos 15, 026105 (2005) DOI: 10.1063/1.1853631

With this work we elaborate on the physics of quantum noise in thermal equilibrium and in stationary non-equilibrium. Starting out from the celebrated quantum fluctuation-dissipation theorem we discuss some important consequences that must hold for open, dissipative quantum systems in thermal equilibrium. The issue of quantum dissipation is exemplified with the fundamental problem of a damped harmonic quantum oscillator. The role of quantum fluctuations is discussed in the context of both, the nonlinear generalized quantum Langevin equation and the path integral approach. We discuss the consequences of the time-reversal symmetry for an open dissipative quantum dynamics and, furthermore, point to a series of subtleties and possible pitfalls. The path integral methodology is applied to the decay of metastable states assisted by quantum Brownian noise.