Interaction-driven breakdown of dynamical localization in a kicked quantum gas
Quantum interference can terminate energy growth in a continually kicked system, via a single-particle ergodicity-breaking mechanism known as dynamical localization. The effect of many-body interactions on dynamically localized states, while important to a fundamental understanding of quantum decoherence, has remained unexplored despite a quarter-century of experimental studies. We report the experimental realization of a tunably-interacting kicked quantum rotor ensemble using a Bose-Einstein condensate in a pulsed optical lattice. We observe signatures of a prethermal localized plateau, followed for interacting samples by interaction-induced anomalous diffusion with an exponent near one half. Echo-type time reversal experiments establish the role of interactions in destroying reversibility. These results quantitatively elucidate the dynamical transition to many-body quantum chaos, advance our understanding of quantum anomalous diffusion, and delimit some possibilities for protecting quantum information in interacting driven systems.