Physical Review Letters

“Coarse-Grained Entanglement and Operator Growth in Anomalous Dynamics”

February 23, 2022

In two-dimensional Floquet systems, many-body localized dynamics in the bulk may give rise to a chaotic evolution at the one-dimensional edges that is characterized by a nonzero chiral topological index. Such anomalous dynamics is qualitatively different from local-Hamiltonian evolution. Here we show how the presence of a nonzero index affects entanglement generation and the spreading of local operators, focusing on the coarse-grained description of generic systems. We tackle this problem by analyzing exactly solvable models of random quantum cellular automata (QCA) that generalize random circuits. We find that a nonzero index leads to asymmetric butterfly velocities with different diffusive broadening of the light cones and to a modification of the order relations between the butterfly and entanglement velocities. We propose that these results can be understood via a generalization of the recently introduced entanglement membrane theory, by allowing for a spacetime entropy current, which in the case of a generic QCA is fixed by the index. We work out the implications of this current on the entanglement “membrane tension” and show that the results for random QCA are recovered by identifying the topological index with a background velocity for the coarse-grained entanglement dynamics.

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