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Distribution functions defined in accordance with the quantum theory of measurement are combined with results obtained from the quantum Langevin equation to discuss decoherence in quantum Brownian motion. Closed form expressions for wave packet spreading and the attenuation of coherence of a pair of wave packets are obtained. The results are exact within the context of linear passive dissipation. It is shown that, contrary to widely accepted current belief, decoherence can occur at high temperature in the absence of dissipation. Expressions for the decoherence time with and without dissipation are obtained that differ from those appearing in earlier discussions. © 2001 The American Physical Society.

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Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

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