Manifestations of chaos in relativistic quantum systems - A study based on out-of-time-order correlator

Chen Di Han, Hong Ya Xu, Liang Huang, Ying Cheng Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Previous work in the field of relativistic quantum chaos has revealed initial evidence that the manifestations of classical chaos in relativistic quantum systems tend to be weakened as compared with those in nonrelativistic quantum systems. To place this finding on a firmer ground, we investigate the relativistic quantum fingerprints of classical chaos using the out-of-time-order correlator (OTOC). OTOC has recently been applied to a number of fields in physics and it holds special promises for the field of quantum chaos, but existing work focused exclusively on nonrelativistic quantum systems. Calculating and analyzing OTOC for relativistic quantum billiard systems described by the massless Dirac equation, we find that the signatures of classical chaos are indeed characteristically less pronounced in relativistic than in nonrelativistic quantum systems. The finding is substantiated by studying four different aspects of OTOC. Firstly, in the energy eigenspace, in the short time regime there is a complete lack of any signature of chaos associated with the evolution of OTOC in the Dirac billiard due to the relativistic quantum phenomenon of Zitterbewegung, in contrast to nonrelativistic quantum billiard systems where chaos leaves behind a quite distinct signature. Secondly, weakening of the relativistic quantum manifestations of classical chaos occurs in the long time regime as well. Thirdly, evolution of the wave packet based OTOC also reveals that the fingerprints of chaos are much less pronounced in the Dirac billiard systems as compared with the Schrödinger billiards. Fourthly, the level spacing statistics of the OTOC operators in systems with classically integrable and chaotic dynamics, which are characteristically distinct in the Schrödinger billiards, bear a strong similarity in the Dirac billiards, indicating again the dwindling effects of chaos. The OTOC based results suggest that the impacts of classical chaos are generally weaker in relativistic than in nonrelativistic quantum systems, a fundamental issue that warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100001
JournalPhysics Open
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Chaotic billiards
  • Dirac equation
  • Level spacing statistics
  • OTOC
  • Relativistic quantum chaos
  • Schrödinger equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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