Kubo formula

The Kubo formula, named for Ryogo Kubo who first presented the formula in 1957,[1][2] is an equation which expresses the linear response of an observable quantity due to a time-dependent perturbation.

Among numerous applications of the Kubo formula, one can calculate the charge and spin susceptibilities of systems of electrons in response to applied electric and magnetic fields. Responses to external mechanical forces and vibrations can be calculated as well.

General Kubo formulaEdit

Consider a quantum system described by the (time independent) Hamiltonian  . The expectation value of a physical quantity, described by the operator  , can be evaluated as:


where   is the partition function. Suppose now that just above some time   an external perturbation is applied to the system. The perturbation is described by an additional time dependence in the Hamiltonian:   where   is the Heaviside function ( = 1 for positive times, =0 otherwise) and   is hermitian and defined for all t, so that   has for positive   again a complete set of real eigenvalues   But these eigenvalues may change with time.

However, one can again find the time evolution of the density matrix   rsp. of the partition function   to evaluate the expectation value of  

 The time dependence of the states   is governed by the Schrödinger equation   which thus determines everything, corresponding of course to the Schrödinger picture. But since   is to be regarded as a small perturbation, it is convenient to now use instead the interaction picture representation,   in lowest nontrivial order. The time dependence in this representation is given by   where by definition for all t and   it is:  

To linear order in  , we have  . Thus one obtains the expectation value of   up to linear order in the perturbation.


The brackets   mean an equilibrium average with respect to the Hamiltonian   Therefore, although the result is of first order in the perturbation, it involves only the zeroth-order eigenfunctions, which is usually the case in perturbation theory and moves away all complications which otherwise might arise for  .

The above expression is true for any kind of operators. (see also Second quantization)[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kubo, Ryogo (1957). "Statistical-Mechanical Theory of Irreversible Processes. I. General Theory and Simple Applications to Magnetic and Conduction Problems". J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 12: 570–586. doi:10.1143/JPSJ.12.570.
  2. ^ Kubo, Ryogo; Yokota, Mario; Nakajima, Sadao (1957). "Statistical-Mechanical Theory of Irreversible Processes. II. Response to Thermal Disturbance". J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 12: 1203–1211. doi:10.1143/JPSJ.12.1203.
  3. ^ Mahan, GD (1981). many particle physics. New York: springer. ISBN 0306463385.