Schrödinger Equation Solver: Larmor precession

Author: C. Staufenbiel, 2022


This notebook guides you through the process of setting up a Schrödinger equation in QuTiP and using the corresponding solver to obtain the time evolution. We will investigate the example of the Larmor precession to explore the functionality of qutip.sesolve().

You can also find more on time evolutions with QuTiP here.


First thing is to import the required functions, classes and modules.

In [1]:
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
import qutip
from qutip import Bloch, QobjEvo, basis, sesolve, sigmay, sigmaz

%matplotlib inline

We setup a arbitrary qubit state, which is in a superposition of the two qubit states. We use the qutip.Bloch class to visualize the state on the Bloch sphere.

In [2]:
psi = (2.0 * basis(2, 0) + basis(2, 1)).unit()
b = Bloch()

Simulation with constant magnetic field

Let's define a simple Hamiltonian and use qutip.sesolve to solve the Schrödinger equation. The Hamiltonian describes a constant magnetic field along the z-axis. We can describe this magnetic field by the corresponding Pauli matrix, which is defined as qutip.sigmaz() in QuTiP.

To solve the Schrödinger equation for this particular Hamiltonian, we have to pass the Hamiltonian, the initial state, the times for which we want to simulate the system, and a set of observables that we evaluate at these times.

Here, we are for example interested in the time evolution of the expectation value for $\sigma_y$. We pass these properties to sesolve in the following.

In [3]:
# simulate the unitary dynamics
H = sigmaz()
times = np.linspace(0, 10, 100)
result = sesolve(H, psi, times, [sigmay()])

result.expect holds the expecation values for the times that we passed to sesolve. result.expect is a two dimensional array, where the first dimension refers to the different expectation operators that we passed to sesolve before.

Above we passed sigmay() as the only expectation operator and therefore we can access its values by result.expect[0]. Below we plot the evolution of the expecation value.

In [4]:
plt.plot(times, result.expect[0])
plt.xlabel("Time"), plt.ylabel("<sigma_y>")

Above we gave sigmay() as an operator to sesolve to directly calculate it's expectation value. If we pass an empty list at this argument to sesolve it will return the quantum state of the system for each time step in times. We can access the states by result.states and use them for example to plot the states on the Bloch sphere to see the precession. If the solver take a long time to run, it is also a good idea to return the states, so you can calculate different things, without specifying before the calculation.

In [5]:
res = sesolve(H, psi, times, [])
b = Bloch()

Simulation with varying magnetic field

Above we passed a constant Hamiltonian to sesolve. In QuTiP these constant operators are represented by Qobj. However, sesolve can also take time-dependent operators as an argument, which are represented by QobjEvo in QuTiP. In this section we define the magnetic field with a linear and a periodic field strength, and observe the changes in the expecation value of $\sigma_y$. You can find more information on QobjEvo in this notebook.

We start by defining two functions for the field strength of the magnetic field. To be passed on to QobjEvo the functions need two arguments: the times and optional arguments.

In [6]:
def linear(t, args):
    return 0.3 * t

def periodic(t, args):
    return np.cos(0.5 * t)

# Define QobjEvos
H_lin = QobjEvo([[sigmaz(), linear]], tlist=times)
H_per = QobjEvo([[sigmaz(), periodic]], tlist=times)

We can now continue as in the previous section and use sesolve to solve the Schrödinger equation.

In [7]:
result_lin = sesolve(H_lin, psi, times, [sigmay()])
result_per = sesolve(H_per, psi, times, [sigmay()])

# Plot <sigma_y> for linear increasing field strength
plt.plot(times, result_lin.expect[0])
plt.xlabel("Time"), plt.ylabel("<sigma_y>")

We can see that the frequency of the Larmor precession increases with the time. This is a direct result of the time-dependent Hamiltonian. We can generate the same plot for the periodically varying field strength.

In [8]:
plt.plot(times, result_per.expect[0])
plt.xlabel("Time"), plt.ylabel("<sigma_y>")


We can use sesolve to solve unitary time evolutions. This is not only limited to constant Hamiltonians, but we can also make use of time-dependent Hamiltonians using QobjEvo.


In [9]:
QuTiP: Quantum Toolbox in Python
Copyright (c) QuTiP team 2011 and later.
Current admin team: Alexander Pitchford, Nathan Shammah, Shahnawaz Ahmed, Neill Lambert, Eric Giguère, Boxi Li, Jake Lishman, Simon Cross and Asier Galicia.
Board members: Daniel Burgarth, Robert Johansson, Anton F. Kockum, Franco Nori and Will Zeng.
Original developers: R. J. Johansson & P. D. Nation.
Previous lead developers: Chris Granade & A. Grimsmo.
Currently developed through wide collaboration. See for details.

QuTiP Version:      4.7.1.dev0+9098716
Numpy Version:      1.22.4
Scipy Version:      1.8.1
Cython Version:     0.29.32
Matplotlib Version: 3.5.2
Python Version:     3.10.4
Number of CPUs:     2
BLAS Info:          Generic
OPENMP Installed:   False
INTEL MKL Ext:      False
Platform Info:      Linux (x86_64)
Installation path:  /home/runner/work/qutip-tutorials/qutip-tutorials/qutip/qutip
Please cite QuTiP in your publication.
For your convenience a bibtex reference can be easily generated using `qutip.cite()`


This section can include some tests to verify that the expected outputs are generated within the notebook. We put this section at the end of the notebook, so it's not interfering with the user experience. Please, define the tests using assert, so that the cell execution fails if a wrong output is generated.

In [10]:
assert np.allclose(result.expect[0][0], 0)
assert np.allclose(result_lin.expect[0][0], 0)
assert np.allclose(result_per.expect[0][0], 0)
assert 1 == 1