10.01, Geb. 30.23, CS; and Zoom
We develop an analytical approach to the study of one-dimensional free fermions subject to random projective measurements of local site occupation numbers, based on the Keldysh path-integral formalism and replica trick. In the limit of rare measurements, \gamma / J << 1 (where \gamma is measurement rate per site and J is hopping constant in the tight-binding model), we derive a non-linear sigma model (NLSM) as an effective field theory of the problem. Its replica-symmetric sector is described by a U(2) / U(1) x U(1) ~ S2 sigma model with diffusive behavior, and the replica-asymmetric sector is a two-dimensional NLSM defined on SU(R) manifold with the replica limit R -> 1. On the Gaussian level, valid in the limit \gamma / J -> 0, this model predicts a logarithmic behavior for the second cumulant of number of particles in a subsystem and for the entanglement entropy. However, the one-loop renormalization group analysis allows us to demonstrate that this logarithmic growth saturates at a finite value ~(J / \gamma)^2 even for rare measurements, which corresponds to the area-law phase. This implies the absence of a measurement-induced entanglement phase transition for free fermions. The crossover between logarithmic growth and saturation, however, happens at exponentially large scale, ln(l_corr) ~ J / \gamma. This makes this crossover very sharp as a function of the measurement frequency \gamma/J, which can be easily confused with a transition from the logarithmic to area law in finite-size numerical calculations. We have performed a careful numerical analysis, which supports our analytical predictions.