We present dynamical calculations for the quantum parametric oscillator using both number-state and coherent-state bases. The coherent-state methods use the positive-P representation, which has a nonclassical phase space—an essential requirement in obtaining an exact stochastic representation of this nonlinear problem. This also provides a way to directly simulate quantum tunneling between the two above-threshold stable states of the oscillator. The coherent-state methods provide both analytic results at large photon numbers, and numerical results for any photon number, while our number-state calculations are restricted to numerical results in the low-photon-number regime. The number-state and coherent-state methods give precise agreement within the accuracy of the numerical calculations. We also compare our results with methods based on a truncated Wigner representation equivalent to stochastic electrodynamics, and find that these are unable to correctly predict the tunneling rate given by the other methods. An interesting feature of the results is the much faster tunneling predicted by the exact quantum-theory methods compared with earlier semiclassical calculations using an approximate potential barrier. This is similar to the faster tunneling found when comparing quantum penetration of a barrier to classical thermal activation. The quantum parametric oscillator, which has an exact steady-state solution, therefore provides a useful and accessible system in which nonlinear quantum effects can be studied far from thermal equilibrium.
- Received 5 November 1990
©1991 American Physical Society