A Guide to Literature on Decoherence

PLEASE NOTE: This page is intended as an introduction to the most important work, not as an exhaustive reference library. Suggestions are welcome.



Decoherence General Superselection Rules
Related Fields Interpretation Experiments
Localization of Objects Decoherence in Quantum Field Theory
Decoherence in Quantum Gravity Zeno effect
Collapse Models Miscellanea



"Decoherence and the Quantum-To-Classical Transition" (Springer-Verlag 2007) by M. Schlosshauer provides an extensive and detailed description of decoherence and the related interpretational issues of quantum theory.

The book "Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classical World in Quantum Theory" (2nd edition, Springer-Verlag 2003) written by E. Joos, H.D. Zeh, C. Kiefer, D. Giulini, J. Kupsch and I.O. Stamatescu contains material on nearly all aspects of decoherence and gives a quite complete description of this area of research.

"Decoherence: Theoretical, Experimental and Conceptual Problems" ed. by P. Blanchard, D. Giulini, E. Joos, C. Kiefer, and I.O. Stamatescu (Proceedings of ZiF-workshop) (Springer 2000)

Related Fields

An anthology of many important essays has been compiled by J.A. Wheeler and W.H. Zurek: "Quantum Theory and Measurement" (Princeton University Press 1983)

A thorough analysis of all physical and philosophical aspects of quantum mechanics can be found in B. d'Espagnat's book "Veiled Reality" (Addison-Wesley 1995).

A comprehensive volume has been complied by G. Auletta "Foundations and Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" (World-Scientific 2001).

The proceedings of the Xth Max Born Symposium cover many fields of current interest: "Quantum Future", ed. by Ph. Blanchard and A. Jadczyk (Springer 1999)

The role of consciousness is far from being understood. Can consciousness help to solve the interpretation problem of quantum theory?
This and other questions are discussed in the very readable book "Conscious Mind in the Physical World" by the late Euan Squires (IOP Publishing 1990).

Harnessing the properties of quantum states for practical applications has led to new efforts in the last decades. A by now classic reference is the book by Michael Nielson and Isaac Chang "Quantum Computation and Quantum Information" (CUP, 10th edition 2010)

The book "The Physical Basis of the Direction of Time" by H.D. Zeh covers all aspects of irreversibility. See also Zeh's website.

The unification of quantum theory and gravitation is still an unsolved puzzle. A review of ongoing research is "Quantum Gravity" by C. Kiefer (second edition, Oxford 2007).

Recommended semi-popular accounts are the books by Jürgen Audretsch - "Verschränkte Welt" (Wiley 2002), english translation "Entangled World ""(Wiley 2006), and "What is real ? " by Adam Becker (John Murray 2018), as well as Dieter Zeh's book "Physik ohne Realität: Tiefsinn oder Wahnsinn? " (Springer 2012).



A short introduction to the essential concepts of decoherence is "Elements of Environmental Decoherence" by E. Joos quant-ph/9908008. The pdf-Version can also be found here.

Other introductory articles are "Decoherence: Concepts and Examples" by C. Kiefer and E. Joos quant-ph/9803052 (Download pdf), and (in German) "Dekohärenz in offenen Quantensystemen" by W.T. Strunz, G. Alber and F. Haake, Physik Journal 1, Nr. 11, p. 47 (Nov. 2002).

See also G. Bacciagaluppi, "The Role of Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (Ed.).

An extensive introduction with many technical details can be found in K. Hornberger, "Introduction to Decoherence Theory", Lect. Notes Phys. 768, 223-278 (2009) - eprint quant-ph/0612118

See also: Max Schlosshauer (2019): "Quantum Decoherence" Phys. Rep. 831, 1-57 - eprint quant-ph/1911.06282

Joos, E. and Zeh, H.D. (1985): "The Emergence of Classical Properties Through Interaction with the Environment." Z. Phys. B59, 223-243. (Download pdf)

Kübler, O. and Zeh, H.D. (1973): "Dynamics of Quantum Correlations." Ann. Phys. (N.Y.) 76, 405-418.

M. Schlosshauer (2004), "Decoherence, the Measurement Problem, and Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics", Rev. Mod. Phys. 76, 1267-1305 , eprint quant-ph/0312059 .

Tegmark, M. and Wheeler, J.A. (2001):"100 Years of Quantum Mysteries." Scientific American 284(Febr.), 54-61 .

Zeh, H.D. (1970): "On the Interpretation of Measurement in Quantum Theory." Found. Phys. 1, 69-76. - this is the "original" paper on decoherence.

Zurek, W.H. (1981): "Pointer basis of quantum apparatus: Into what mixture does the wave packet collapse?" Phys. Rev. D24, 1516-1525.

Zurek, W.H. (1991): "Decoherence and the Transition from Quantum to Classical.'' Physics Today 44 (Oct.), 36-44.

Zurek, W.H. (2003): "Decoherence, Einselection, and the Quantum Origin of the Classical.'' Rev. Mod. Phys. 75, 715 - quant-ph/0105127

Superselection Rules

Giulini, D., Kiefer, C., and Zeh, H.D. (1995): "Symmetries, superselection rules, and decoherence." Phys. Lett. A199, 291-298, also available as eprint gr-qc/9410029.

Wick, G.C., Wightman, A.S., and Wigner, E.P. (1952): "The Intrinsic Parity of Elementary Particles." Phys. Rev. 88, 101-105.

Wightman, A.S. (1995): "Superselection Rules; Old and New." Il Nuovo Cimento 110B, 751-769.

Zurek, W.H. (1982): "Environment-induced superselection rules." Phys. Rev. D26, 1862-1880.


Shi, Y. (2000): "Early Gedanken Experiments of Quantum Mechanics Revisited." Annalen Phys. 9, 637-648, eprint quant-ph/9811050.

Zeh, H.D. (1970): "On the Interpretation of Measurement in Quantum Theory." Found. Phys. 1, 69-76.

Has Bohm's theory any advantages? A critical assessment is given by H.D. Zeh in "Why Bohm's Quantum Theory?" Found. Phys. Lett. 12, 197, eprint quant-ph/9812059.

Zeh, H.D. (2000): "The Problem of Conscious Observation in Quantum Mechanical Description." Found. Phys. Lett. 13, 221-233, eprint quant-ph/9908084.

Zurek, W.H. (1998): "Decoherence, Einselection, and the Existential Interpretation (the Rough Guide)" Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. A356, 1793-1820. eprint quant-ph/9805065.


Brune, M., Haroche, S., Raimond, J.M., Davidovich, L., and Zagury, N. (1992): "Manipulation of photons in a cavity by dispersive atom-field coupling: Quantum-nondemolition measurements and generation of ´Schrödinger cat´ states." Phys. Rev. A45, 5193-5214.

Brune, M. et al. (1996): "Observing the Progressive Decoherence of the 'Meter' in Quantum Measurements." Phys. Rev. Lett 77, 4887-4890.

S. Haroche "Observing the Decoherence of the Meter in a Measurement: a Variation on Schrödinger's Cat Experiment" in: "Quantum Future", ed. by Ph. Blanchard and A. Jadczyk (Springer 1999).

Myatt, C.J. et al. (2000): "Decoherence of quantum superpositions through coupling to engineered reservoirs." Nature 403, 269-273.

Hornberger, K. et al. (2003): "Collisional Decoherence Observed in Matter Wave Interferometry." Phys. Rev. Lett 90, 160401.

L. Hackermüller, K. Hornberger, B. Brezger, A. Zeilinger, M. Arndt, "Decoherence of matter waves by thermal emission of radiation", Nature 427, 711 (2004), eprint quant-ph/0402146 .

Localization of Objects

Caldeira, A.O. and Leggett, A.J. (1983): "Path Integral Approach to Quantum Brownian Motion."Physica 121A, 587-616.

Caldeira, A.O. and Leggett, A.J. (1985): "Influence of damping on quantum interference: An exactly soluble model." Phys. Rev. A31, 1059-1066.

Joos, E. and Zeh, H.D. (1985): "The Emergence of Classical Properties Through Interaction with the Environment."Z. Phys. B59, 223-243. (Download pdf)

Unruh, W.G. and Zurek, W.H. (1989): "Reduction of a wave packet in quantum Brownian motion." Phys. Rev. D40, 1071-1094.

Gallis, M.R. and Fleming, G.N. (1990): "Environmental and spontaneous localization." Phys. Rev. A42, 38.

Hornberger, K. and Sipe, J.E. (2003): "Collisional decoherence reexamined." Phys. Rev. A68, 012105 provides a detailed recalculation in view of new experiments with Fullerene molecules.

Decoherence in Quantum Field Theory

Kiefer, C. (1992): "Decoherence in quantum electrodynamics and quantum cosmology." Phys. Rev. D46, 1658-1670.

Dürr, D. and Spohn, H.: "Decoherence Through Coupling to the Radiation Field." in: "Decoherence: Theoretical, Experimental and Conceptual Problems" ed. by P. Blanchard, D. Giulini, E. Joos, C. Kiefer, and I.O. Stamatescu (Springer 2000)

Decoherence in Quantum Gravity

Joos, E. (1986): "Why do we observe a classical spacetime?" Phys. Lett. A116, 6-8.

Kiefer, C. (1987): "Continuous measurement of mini-superspace variables by higher multipoles." Class. Quantum Grav. 4, 1369-1382.

Zeh, H.D. (1986): "Emergence of Classical Time from a Universal Wave Function." Phys. Lett. A116, 9-12.

Demers, J.-G. and Kiefer, C. (1995): "Decoherence of black holes by Hawking radiation." Phys. Rev. D53,7050-7061.

Barvinsky, A.O., Kamenshchik, A. Yu. , Kiefer, C. , and Mishakov, I.V. (1999): "Decoherence in quantum cosmology at the onset of inflation" Nucl. Phys. B551, 374-396; eprint gr-qc/9812043.

Barvinsky, A.O., Kamenshchik, A. Yu. , and Kiefer, C. (1999): "Effective action and decoherence by fermions in quantum cosmology" Nucl. Phys. B552, 420-444; eprint gr-qc/9901055.

Collapse Models

Ghirardi, G.C., Rimini, A., and Weber, T. (1986): "Unified dynamics for microscopic and macroscopic systems." Phys. Rev. D34, 470-491.

Pearle, P. (1979): "Toward Explaining Why Events Occur." Int. J. Theor. Phys. 48, 489.

Zeno effect

Itano, W.M., Heinzen, D.J., Bollinger, J.J. and Wineland, D.J. (1990): "Quantum Zeno effect." Phys. Rev. A41, 2295-2300.

Joos, E. (1984): "Continuous Measurement: Watchdog Effect versus Golden Rule." Phys. Rev. D29, 1626-1633.

Home, D. and Whitaker, M.A.B. (1993): "A unified framework for quantum Zeno processes." Phys. Lett. A173, 327-331.

Misra, B. and Sudarshan, E.C.G. (1977): "The Zeno's paradox in quantum theory." J. Math. Phys. 18, 756-763.


Max Tegmark, "The Importance of Decoherence in Brain Processes" Phys. Rev. E61, 4194, also available as eprint quant-ph/9907009 This paper may well give the death sentence to many models (see below) employing quantum coherence as a central agent for the workings of the brain.

S. Hagen, S.R. Hameroff and J.A. Tuszybski, "Quantum Computation in Brain Microtubules? Decoherence and Biological Feasibility" eprint quant-ph/0005025.

L. Diósi and C. Kiefer, "Robustness and diffusion of pointer states" Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 3552, eprint quant-ph/0005071.

L. Davidovich, "Decoherence and Quantum-state Measurement in Quantum Optics" eprint quant-ph/0301129 gives a very readable introduction to cavity QED experiments.

H.D. Zeh, "There is no "first" quantization", Phys. Lett. A309, 329 (2003), eprint quant-ph/0210098

A. Viale, M. Vicari, and N. Zanghi, "Analysis of the Loss of Coherence in Interferometry with Macromolecules", Phys. Rev. A68, 063610 (2003) eprint quant-ph/0307160

S.L. Adler, "Collisional Decoherence: Squaring the Delta Function, and an Independent Cross Check.", eprint quant-ph/0607109 Adresses a weak point of earlier calculations using scattering formulas.

J.J. Halliwell, "Two Derivations of Master Equation of Quantum Brownian Motion.", eprint quant-ph/0607132

P. Sonnentag and F. Hasselbach, "Measurement of Decoherence of Electron Waves and Visualization of the Quantum-Classical Transition", Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 200402 (2007)

K. Hornberger and B. Vacchini, "Monitoring derivation of the quantum linear Boltzmann equation.", eprint arXiv:0711.3109 presents an exhaustive study of Quantum Brownian Motion.

H.D. Zeh, "Quantum discreteness is an illusion", eprint arXiv:0809.2904

J. Trost and K. Hornberger, "Hund's paradox and the collisional stabilization of chiral molecules.", Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 023202 (2009) eprint arXiv:0811.2140 studies quantitatively the decohering environmental effects on a small molecule (D2S2).

M. Schlosshauer, K. Camilleri, "The quantum-to-classical transition: Bohr's doctrine of classical concepts, emergent classicality, and decoherence", eprint arXiv:0804.1609

K. Hornberger et al., "Colloquium: Quantum interference of clusters and molecules", Rev. Mod. Phys. 84, 157 (2012), eprint arXiv:1109.5937

A. Smirne, B. Vacchini, "Quantum master equation for collisional dynamics of massive particles with internal degrees of freedom", Phys. Rev. A82, 042111 (2010), eprint arXiv:1003.0998