Entanglement structure of current-driven diffusive fermion systems
Abstract: Applying a chemical potential bias to a conductor drives the system out of equilibrium into a current carrying non-equilibrium state. This current flow is associated with entropy production in the leads, but it remains poorly understood under what conditions the system is driven to local equilibrium by this process. We investigate this problem using two toy models for coherent quantum transport of diffusive fermions: Anderson models in the conducting phase and a class of random quantum circuits acting on a chain of qubits, which exactly maps to an interacting fermion problem. Under certain conditions, we find that the long-time states in both models exhibit volume-law mutual information and entanglement, in striking violation of local equilibrium. Extending this analysis to Anderson metal-insulator transitions, we find that the volume-law entanglement scaling persists at the critical point up to mobility edge effects. This work points towards a broad class of examples of physical systems where volume-law entanglement can be sustained, and potentially harnessed, despite strong coupling of the system to its surrounding environment.