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Decoherence is well understood, in contrast with disentanglement. According to common lore, irreversible coupling to a dissipative environment is the mechanism for loss of entanglement. Here, we show that, on the contrary, disentanglement can in fact occur at large enough temperatures T even for vanishingly small dissipation (as we have shown previously for decoherence). However, whereas the effect of T on decoherence increases exponentially with time, the effect of T on disentanglement is constant for all times, reflecting a fundamental difference between the two phenomena. Also, the possibility of disentanglement at a particular T increases with decreasing initial entanglement. © 2010 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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Physica Scripta