A critical point is associated with a diverging relaxation time which always makes the dynamics across a critical point fascinating. For example, when the temperature of a classical system undergoing a classical phase transition (CPT) at a finite temperature Tc is suddenly changed from a value higher than the critical temperature to a lower value across the critical point, the system does not equilibrate instantaneously. Domains of ordered regions are formed which grow following a phase ordering dynamics which leads to a dynamical scaling .
In this section, we will discuss the recent studies of non-equilibrium dynamics of quantum systems driven across QCPs where the dynamics is unitary unlike the dynamics across a finite temperature critical point. The non-equilibrium dynamics of a transverse XY spin chain was first investigated in a series of papers [48, 46, 47] where the time evolution of the model was studied in the presence of various time-dependent magnetic fields and the nonergodic behavior of the magnetization was pointed out. A similar result was also obtained in .
There is a recent upsurge in studies of non-equilibrium dynamics of a quantum system swept across a QCP. These studies are important for exploring the universality associated with quantum critical dynamics. Moreover, recent experiments with ultracold atomic gases [343, 663, 478, 87] have stimulated numerous theoretical studies. The main properties of these atomic gases are low dissipation rates and phase coherence over a long time so that the dynamics is well described by the usual quantum evolution of a closed system.
In the subsequent sections, we shall discuss that when a quantum system initially prepared in its ground state is driven across a QCP, the dynamics fails to be adiabatic however slow the rate of change in the parameters of the Hamiltonian may be. This is due to the divergence of the characteristic time scale of the quantum system, namely, the relaxation time close to the QCP. This non-adiabaticity results in the occurrence of defects in the final state of the quantum Hamiltonian.