Zala Lenarčič
Department for Theoretical Physics
Jozef Stefan Institute
Jamova 39, Ljubljana


Nonequilibrium dynamics provides an unprecedented point of view onto the interacting many-body systems. I am fascinated by that approach because it builds the understanding through surprising connections; via thermalization we can learn a lot about the non-ergodic systems, emergent time-scales can actually give information on the interactions between different subsystems, while some extraordinary properties can be triggered or accessed only by driving. Nonequilibrium as a research topic seems inexhaustible since almost all applications of correlated matter use or rely on nonequilibrium situations.

Broad areas of interest:
non-equilibrium dynamics of many-body systems,
open systems,
tensor networks,
machine learning.

Concrete past research topics:
Unsupervised learning of state complexity We used autoencoders to detect local complexity of time evolved states.
Reviving integrability in realistic materials. We showed that driving can reactivate conservation laws of integrable models in realistic setups (solid state materials, trapped ions) and can stabilize highly non-thermal steady states described by generalized Gibbs ensembles.
Critical properties of many-body localized (MBL) systems in open setups. While numerical studies of MBL in closed system are very limited, we looked at this problem through a fresh (and seemingly forbiden) perspective: by coupling a disordered system to baths.
Pump-probe dynamics of Mott insulators. We studied different stages of relaxation after a (photo) excitation of Mott insulators. Most importantly, we proposed mechanisms that explained recombination of holon-doublon excitons.
Dielectric breakdown of Mott insulator. We determined threshold field for excessive production of charged particles as a consequence of applying a constant electric field.

Group members

Sourav Nandy

machine learning
open systems
Floquet dynamics


Madhumita Sarkar

Driven electronic systems


Iris Ulčakar
PhD student

driven open systems



PhD and postdoc positions as part of my recently granted ERC StG project Weakly driven quantum symmetries (DrumS). Local students are welcomed to contant me regaring possible master thesis and summer projects.

Collaborations and major projects

I am coordinating QuSiED QuantERA coonsortium and am a partner of TNiSQ QuantERA consortium.

Around the world

I recently formed my own group at the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia. On my way around the world I spent two years as a postdoctoral employee in the group of Prof. Ehud Altman at the Department of physics, UC Berkeley and three years as a postdoc with Prof. Achim Rosch. I did my PhD with prof. Peter Prelovšek at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Curriculum vitae


Spin diffusion in perturbed isotropic Heisenberg spin chain
S. Nandy, Z. Lenarčič, E. Ilievski, M. Mierzejewski, J. Herbrych, P. Prelovšek,
arXiv:2211.17181 (2022)
From dissipationless to normal diffusion in easy-axis Heisenberg spin chain
P. Prelovšek, S. Nandy, Z. Lenarčič, M. Mierzejewski, J. Herbrych
Phys. Rev. B 106, 245104 (2022), arXiv:2205.11891 (2022)
From observations to complexity of quantum states via unsupervised learning
M. Schmitt and Z. Lenarčič
Phys. Rev. B 106, L041110 (2022), arXiv:2102.11328 (2021)
Engineering generalized Gibbs ensembles with trapped ions
F. Reiter, F. Lange, S. Jain, M. Grau, J. P. Home and Z. Lenarčič
Phys. Rev. Research 3, 033142 (2021), arXiv:1910.01593 (2019)
Critical behavior near the many-body localization transition in driven open systems
Z. Lenarčič, O. Alberton, A. Rosch, and E. Altman
Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 116601 (2020), arXiv:1910.01548 (2019)
Activating many-body localization in solids by driving with light
Z. Lenarčič, E. Altman, and A. Rosch
Phys. Rev. Lett 121, 267603 (2018), arXiv:1806.04772 (2018)
Time-dependent generalized Gibbs ensembles in open quantum systems
F. Lange, Z. Lenarčič, and A. Rosch
Phys. Rev. B 97, 165138 (2018), arXiv:1801.07646 (2018)
Perturbative approach to weakly driven many-particle systems in the presence of approximate conservation laws
Z. Lenarčič, F. Lange, and A. Rosch
Phys. Rev. B 97, 024302 (2018), arXiv:1706.05700
Pumping approximately integrable models
F. Lange, Z. Lenarčič, and A. Rosch
Nat. Comm. 8, 15767 (2017), arXiv:1608.03563
Exciton Recombination in One-Dimensional Organic Mott Insulators
Z. Lenarčič, M. Eckstein and P. Prelovšek
Phys. Rev. B 92, 201104(R) (2015), arXiv:1508.03475
Holon-Doublon Binding as the Mechanism for the Mott transition
P. Prelovšek, Z. Lenarčič, J. Kokalj and Ross H. McKenzie
Phys. Rev. B 92, 235155 (2015), arXiv:1505.01498
Exact asymptotics of the current in boundary-driven dissipative quantum chains in large external fields
Z. Lenarčič and T. Prosen
Phys. Rev. E 91, 030103(R) (2015), arXiv:1501.02395
Charge recombination in undoped cuprates
Z. Lenarčič and P. Prelovšek
Phys. Rev. B 90, 235136 (2014), arXiv:1409.2347
Multistage dynamics of the spin-lattice polaron formation
J. Kogoj, Z. Lenarčič, D. Golež, M. Mierzejewski, P. Prelov&scaronek, and J. Bonča
Phys. Rev. B 90, 125104 (2014), arXiv:1402.6104
Optical response of highly excited particles in a strongly correlated system
Z. Lenarčič, D. Golež, J. Bonča, and P. Prelovšek
Phys. Rev. B 89, 125123 (2014), arXiv:1312.1962
Ultrafast Charge Recombination in a Photoexcited Mott-Hubbard Insulator
Z. Lenarčič and P. Prelovšek
Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 016401 (2013), arXiv:1211.3236
Dielectric Breakdown in Spin-Polarized Mott Insulator
Z. Lenarčič and P. Prelovšek
Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 196401 (2012), arXiv:1201.3817


Dielektric breakdown of Mott insulator
Z. Lenarčič
advisor: prof. Peter Prelovšek
Diploma thesis, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (2012)
Nonequilibrium properties of Mott insulators
Z. Lenarčič
advisor: prof. Peter Prelovšek
PhD thesis, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (2015)


Podcast "Podobe znanja" on the topic of my ERC project.

Women leaders in quantum - ZALA LENARČIČ, the Coordinator of the QuSiED Project of QuantERA.

An interview for the main Slovenian newpaper Delo about my life and reseach abroad.

A short interview for the Nature Blog about my resent research on activating many-body localization in solids.

A report about a new Transregional Collaborative Research Center involving an international collaboration of the University of Cologne, Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Copenhagen and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Interview for Elle after I received the National scholarship for Women in Science.

Person has to

and listen.