Liouvillian Dynamics of the Open Schwinger Model: String Breaking and Kinetic Dissipation in a Thermal Medium

Understanding the dynamics of bound state formation is one of the fundamental questions in confining quantum field theories such as Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). One hadronization mechanism that has garnered significant attention is the breaking of a string initially connecting a fermion and an anti-fermion. Deepening our understanding of real-time string-breaking dynamics with simpler, lower dimensional models like the Schwinger model can improve our understanding of the hadronization process in QCD and other confining systems found in condensed matter and statistical systems. In this paper, we consider the string-breaking dynamics within the Schwinger model and investigate its modification inside a thermal medium, treating the Schwinger model as an open quantum system coupled to a thermal environment. Within the regime of weak coupling between the system and environment, the real-time evolution of the system can be described by a Lindblad evolution equation. We analyze the Liouvillian gaps of this Lindblad equation and the time dependence of the system’s von Neumann entropy. We observe that the late-time relaxation rate decreases as the environment correlation length increases. Moreover, when the environment correlation length is infinite, the system exhibits two steady states, one in each of the sectors with definite charge-conjugation-parity (CP) quantum numbers. For parameter regimes where an initial string breaks in vacuum, we observe a delay of the string breaking in the medium, due to kinetic dissipation effects. Conversely, in regimes where an initial string remains intact in vacuum time evolution, we observe string breaking (melting) in the thermal medium. We further discuss how the Liouvillian dynamics of the open Schwinger model can be simulated on quantum computers and provide an estimate of the associated Trotter errors.