Density contrasts in the universe are governed by scalar cosmological perturbations which, when expressed in terms of gauge-invariant variables, contain a classical component from scalar metric perturbations and a quantum component from inflaton field fluctuations. It has long been known that the effect of cosmological expansion on a quantum field amounts to squeezing. Thus, the entropy of cosmological perturbations can be studied by treating them in the framework of squeezed quantum systems. Entropy of a free quantum field is a seemingly simple yet subtle issue. In this paper, different from previous treatments, we tackle this issue with a fully developed nonequilibrium quantum field theory formalism for such systems. We compute the covariance matrix elements of the parametric quantum field and solve for the evolution of the density matrix elements and the Wigner functions, and, from them, derive the von Neumann entropy. We then show explicitly why the entropy for the squeezed yet closed system is zero, but is proportional to the particle number produced upon coarse-graining out the correlation between the particle pairs. We also construct the bridge between our quantum field-theoretic results and those using the probability distribution of classical stochastic fields by earlier authors, preserving some important quantum properties, such as entanglement and coherence, of the quantum field.
- Cosmological particle creation
- Cosmological perturbations
- Entropy generation
- Nonequilibrium field theory