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Stability of quantum systems at three scales: Passivity, quantum weak energy inequalities and the microlocal spectrum condition

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Publication details

JournalCommunications in Mathematical Physics
DatePublished - Sep 2003
Issue number1-2
Number of pages46
Pages (from-to)329-375
Original languageEnglish


Quantum weak energy inequalities have recently been extensively discussed as a condition on the dynamical stability of quantum field states, particularly on curved spacetimes. We formulate the notion of a quantum weak energy inequality for general dynamical systems on static background spacetimes and establish a connection between quantum weak energy inequalities and thermodynamics. Namely, for such a dynamical system, we show that the existence of a class of states satisfying a quantum weak inequality implies that passive states (e.g., mixtures of ground- and thermal equilibrium states) exist for the time-evolution of the system and, therefore, that the second law of thermodynamics holds. As a model system, we consider the free scalar quantum field on a static spacetime. Although the Weyl algebra does not satisfy our general assumptions, our abstract results do apply to a related algebra which we construct, following a general method which we carefully describe, in Hilbert-space representations induced by quasifree Hadarnard states. We discuss the problem of reconstructing states on the Weyl algebra from states on the new algebra and give conditions under which this may be accomplished.

Previous results for linear quantum fields show that, on one hand, quantum weak energy inequalities follow from the Hadamard condition (or microlocal spectrum condition) imposed on the states, and on the other hand, that the existence of passive states implies that there is a class of states fulfilling the microlocal spectrum condition. Thus, the results of this paper indicate that these three conditions of dynamical stability are essentially equivalent. This observation is significant because the three conditions become effective at different length scales: The microlocal spectrum condition constrains the short-distance behaviour of quantum states (microscopic stability), quantum weak energy inequalities impose conditions at finite distance (mesoscopic stability), and the existence of passive states is a statement on the global thermodynamic stability of the system (macroscopic stability).

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