Signature of Many-Body Localization of Phonons in Strongly Disordered Superlattices

Thanh Nguyen, Nina Andrejevic, Hoi Chun Po, Qichen Song, Yoichiro Tsurimaki, Nathan C. Drucker, Ahmet Alatas, Esen E. Alp, Bogdan M. Leu, Alessandro Cunsolo, Yong Q. Cai, Lijun Wu, Joseph A. Garlow, Yimei Zhu, Hong Lu, Arthur C. Gossard, Alexander A. Puretzky, David B. Geohegan, Shengxi Huang, Mingda Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many-body localization (MBL) has attracted significant attention because of its immunity to thermalization, role in logarithmic entanglement entropy growth, and opportunities to reach exotic quantum orders. However, experimental realization of MBL in solid-state systems has remained challenging. Here, we report evidence of a possible phonon MBL phase in disordered GaAs/AlAs superlattices. Through grazing-incidence inelastic X-ray scattering, we observe a strong deviation of the phonon population from equilibrium in samples doped with ErAs nanodots at low temperature, signaling a departure from thermalization. This behavior occurs within finite phonon energy and wavevector windows, suggesting a localization-thermalization crossover. We support our observation by proposing a theoretical model for the effective phonon Hamiltonian in disordered superlattices, and showing that it can be mapped exactly to a disordered 1D Bose-Hubbard model with a known MBL phase. Our work provides momentum-resolved experimental evidence of phonon localization, extending the scope of MBL to disordered solid-state systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7419-7425
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 8 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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