Marlon Brenes, Silvia Pappalardi, Mark T. Mitchison, John Goold, Alessandro Silva

Out-of-time-order correlators (OTOCs) have become established as a tool to characterise quantum information dynamics and thermalization in interacting quantum many-body systems. It was recently argued that the expected exponential growth of the OTOC is connected to the existence of correlations beyond those encoded in the standard Eigenstate Thermalization Hypothesis (ETH). We show explicitly, by an extensive numerical analysis of the statistics of operator matrix elements in conjunction with a detailed study of OTOC dynamics, that the OTOC is indeed a precise tool to explore the fine details of the ETH. In particular, while short-time dynamics is dominated by correlations, the long-time saturation behavior gives clear indications of an operator-dependent energy scale ${\omega}_{\text{GOE}}$ associated to the emergence of an effective Gaussian random matrix theory. We provide an estimation of the finite-size scaling of ${\omega}_{\text{GOE}}$ for the general class of observables composed of sums of local operators in the infinite-temperature regime and found linear behavior for the models considered.