Thermometry of quantum environments with impurity probes


We study quantum impurity models as a platform for quantum thermometry. A single quantum spin-1/2 impurity is coupled to an explicit, structured, fermionic thermal environment. We critically assess the thermometric capabilities of the impurity as a probe, when its coupling to the environment is of Ising or Kondo exchange type. In the Ising case, we find sensitivity equivalent to that of an idealized two-level system, with peak thermometric performance obtained at a temperature that scales linearly in the applied control field, independent of the coupling strength and environment spectral features. By contrast, a richer thermometric response can be realized for Kondo impurities, since strong probe-environment entanglement can then develop. At low temperatures, we uncover a regime with a universal thermometric response that is independent of microscopic details, controlled only by the low-energy spectral features of the environment. The many-body entanglement that develops in this regime means that low-temperature thermometry with a weakly applied control field is inherently less sensitive, while optimal sensitivity is recovered by suppressing the entanglement with stronger fields.

Phys. Rev. A 107, 042614 (2023)