Kramers' degeneracy for open systems in thermal equilibrium
Kramers' degeneracy theorem underpins many interesting effects in quantum systems with time-reversal symmetry. We show that the generator of dynamics for Markovian open fermionic systems can exhibit an analogous degeneracy, protected by a combination of time-reversal symmetry and the microreversibility property of systems at thermal equilibrium - the degeneracy is lifted if either condition is not met. We provide simple examples of this phenomenon and show that the degeneracy is reflected in the standard Green's functions. Furthermore, we show that certain experimental signatures of topological edge modes in open many-body systems can be protected by microreversibility in the same way. Our results suggest that time-reversal symmetry of the system-bath Hamiltonian can affect open system dynamics only if the bath is in thermal equilibrium.