Abstract:
As already known for nonrelativistic spinless particles, Bopp operators give an elegant and simple way to compute the dynamics of quasiprobability distributions in the phase space formulation of Quantum Mechanics. In this work, we present a generalization of Bopp operators for spins and apply our results to the case of open spin systems. This approach allows to take the classical limit in a transparent way, recovering the corresponding Fokker-Planck equation.

Abstract:
We study the thermal escape problem in the low damping limit. We find that finiteness of the barrier is crucial for explaining the thermal activation results. In this regime low barrier non-equilibrium corrections to the usual theories become necessary. We propose a simple theoretical extension accounting for these non-equilibrium processes which agrees numerical results. We apply our theory to the understanding of switching current curves in underdamped Josephson junctions.

Abstract:
The continued-fraction method to solve classical Fokker--Planck equations has been adapted to tackle quantum master equations of the Caldeira--Leggett type. This can be done taking advantage of the phase-space (Wigner) representation of the quantum density matrix. The approach differs from those in which some continued-fraction expression is found for a certain quantity, in that the full solution of the master equation is obtained by continued-fraction methods. This allows to study in detail the effects of the environment (fluctuations and dissipation) on several classes of nonlinear quantum systems. We apply the method to the canonical problem of quantum Brownian motion in periodic potentials both for cosine and ratchet potentials (lacking inversion symmetry).

Abstract:
The relaxation mechanisms of a quantum nanomagnet are discussed in the frame of linear response theory. We use a spin Hamiltonian with a uniaxial potential barrier plus a Zeeman term. The spin, having arbitrary $S$, is coupled to a bosonic environment. From the eigenstructure of the relaxation matrix, we identify two main mechanisms, namely, thermal activation over the barrier, with a time scale $\eival_1^{-1}$, and a faster dynamics inside the potential wells, with characteristic time $\eivalW^{-1}$. This allows to introduce a simple analytical formula for the response, which agrees well with the exact numerical results, and cover experiments even under moderate to strong fields in the superparamagnetic range. In passing, we generalize known classical results for a number of quantities (e.g., integral relaxation times, initial decay time, Kramers rate), results that are recovered in the limit $S\to\infty$.

Abstract:
Using the continued-fraction method we solve the Caldeira-Leggett master equation in the phase-space (Wigner) representation to study Quantum ratchets. Broken spatial symmetry, irreversibility and periodic forcing allows for a net current in these systems. We calculate this current as a function of the force under adiabatic conditions. Starting from the classical limit we make the system quantal. In the quantum regime tunnel events and over-barrier wave reflection phenomena modify the classical result. Finally, using the phase-space formalism we give some insights about the decoherence in these systems.

Abstract:
We implement continued-fraction techniques to solve exactly quantum master equations for a spin with arbitrary S coupled to a (bosonic) thermal bath. The full spin density matrix is obtained, so that along with relaxation and thermoactivation, coherent dynamics is included (precession, tunnel, etc.). The method is applied to study isotropic spins and spins in a bistable anisotropy potential (superparamagnets). We present examples of static response, the dynamical susceptibility including the contribution of the different relaxation modes, and of spin resonance in transverse fields.

Abstract:
We study numerically synchronization phenomena of mobile discrete breathers in dissipative nonlinear lattices periodically forced. When varying the driving intensity, the breather velocity generically locks at rational multiples of the driving frequency. In most cases, the locking plateau coincides with the linear stability domain of the resonant mobile breather and the desynchronization occurs by regular appearance of type I intermittencies. However, some plateaux also show chaotic mobile breathers with locked velocity in the locking region. The addition of a small subharmonic driving tames the locked chaotic solution and enhances the stability of resonant mobile breathers.

Abstract:
We study the thermal escape problem in the moderate-to-high and high damping regime of a system with a parabolic barrier. We present a formula that matches our numerical results accounting for finite barrier effects, and compare it with previous works. We also show results for the full damping range. We quantitatively study some aspects on the relation between mean first passage time and the definition of a escape rate. To finish we apply our results and considerations in the framework of force spectroscopy problems. We study the differences on the predictions using the different theories and discuss the role of $\gamma \dot{F}$ as the relevant parameter at high damping.

Abstract:
Using the system-bath model Hamiltonian this thesis covers the equilibrium and out of equilibrium properties of quantum open systems. Topics included are the calculation of thermodynamical quantities of open systems, derivation of quantum master equations, phase space and numerical methods and Linear and non Linear Response Theory. Applications are the transport in periodic potentials and the dynamics of spins.

Abstract:
We study the time and space resolved dynamics of a qubit with an Ohmic coupling to propagating 1D photons, from weak coupling to the ultrastrong coupling regime. A nonperturbative study based on Matrix Product States (MPS) shows the following results: (i) The ground state of the combined systems contains excitations of both the qubit and the surrounding bosonic field. (ii) An initially excited qubit equilibrates through spontaneous emission to a state, which under certain conditions, is locally close to that ground state, both in the qubit and the field. (iii) The resonances of the combined qubit-photon system match those of the spontaneous emission process and also the predictions of the adiabatic renormalization [A. J. Leggett et al., Rev. Mod. Phys. 59, 1, (1987)]. Finally, a non-perturbative ab-initio calculations show that this physics can be studied using a flux qubit galvanically coupled to a superconducting transmission line.