We consider an open system near a quantum critical point that is suddenly moved towards the critical point. The bath-dominated diffusive nonequilibrium dynamics after the quench is shown to follow scaling behavior, governed by a critical exponent that emerges in addition to the known equilibrium critical exponents. We determine this exponent and show that it describes universal prethermalized coarsening dynamics of the order parameter in an intermediate time regime. Implications of this quantum critical prethermalization are: (i) a power law rise of order and correlations after an initial collapse of the equilibrium state and (ii) a crossover to thermalization that occurs arbitrarily late for sufficiently shallow quenches.
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© 2014 American Physical Society.