Tunneling in a time-dependent setting
Physical Review D, Particles and fields
A standard approach to analyzing tunneling processes in various physical contexts is to use instanton or imaginary time path techniques. For systems in which the tunneling takes place in a time dependent setting, the standard methods are often applicable only in special cases, e.g. due to some additional symmetries. We consider a collection of time dependent tunneling problems to which the standard methods cannot be applied directly, and present an algorithm, based on the WKB approximation
... ned with complex time path methods, which can be used to calculate the relevant tunneling probabilities. This collection of problems contains, among others, the spontaneous nucleation of topological defects in an expanding universe, the production of particle - antiparticle pairs in a time dependent electric field, and false vacuum decay in field theory from a coherently oscillating initial state. To demonstrate the method, we present detailed calculations of the time dependent decay rates for the last two examples.