Symmetry reduction for tunneling defects due to strong couplings to phonons Academic Article uri icon


  • Tunneling two-level systems are ubiquitous in amorphous solids, and form a major source of noise in systems such as nano-mechanical oscillators, single electron transistors, and superconducting qubits. Occurance of defect tunneling despite their coupling to phonons is viewed as a hallmark of weak defect-phonon coupling. This is since strong coupling to phonons results in significant phonon dressing and suppresses tunneling in two-level tunneling defects effectively. Here we determine the dynamics of a crystalline tunnelling defect strongly coupled to phonons incorporating the full 3D geometry in our description. We find that inversion symmetric tunnelling is not dressed by phonons whereas other tunnelling pathways are dressed by phonons and, thus, are suppressed by strong defect-phonon coupling. We provide the linear acoustic and dielectric response functions for a crystalline tunnelling defect for strong defect-phonon coupling. This allows direct experimental determination of the defect-phonon coupling. The singling out of inversion-symmetric tunneling states in single tunneling defects is complementary to their dominance of the low energy excitations in strongly disordered solids as a result of inter-defect interactions for large defect concentrations. This suggests that inversion symmetric two-level systems play a unique role in the low energy properties of disordered solids.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017