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Laurent Bruneau, Claude-Alain Pillet
Thermal relaxation of a QED cavity
ABSTRACT. We study repeated interactions of the quantized electromagnetic field in a cavity with single two-levels atoms. Using the Markovian nature of the resulting quantum evolution we study its large time asymptotics. We show that, whenever the atoms are distributed according to the canonical ensemble at temperature T>0 and some generic non-degeneracy condition is satisfied, the cavity field relaxes towards some invariant state. Under some more stringent non-resonance condition, this invariant state is thermal equilibrium at some renormalized temperature T*. Our result is non-perturbative in the strength of the atom-field coupling. The relaxation process is slow (non-exponential) due to the presence of infinitely many metastable states of the cavity field.