We present an effective operator formalism for open quantum systems. Employing perturbation theory and adiabatic elimination of excited states for a weakly driven system, we derive an effective master equation which reduces the evolution to the ground-state dynamics. The effective evolution involves a single effective Hamiltonian and one effective Lindblad operator for each naturally occurring decay process. Simple expressions are derived for the effective operators which can be directly applied to reach effective equations of motion for the ground states. We compare our method with the hitherto existing concepts for effective interactions and present physical examples for the application of our formalism, including dissipative state preparation by engineered decay processes.
Physical Review a (atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics), 2012, Vol 85, Issue 3