Perspective on quantum thermodynamics

Author(s): J. Millen, A. Xuereb

Journal: New Journal of Physics

Volume: 18

Year: 2016

DOI Number: 10.1088/1367-2630/18/1/011002

Link: Link to publication


Classical thermodynamics is unrivalled in its range of applications and relevance to everyday life. It enables a description of complex systems, made up of microscopic particles, in terms of a small number of macroscopic quantities, such as work and entropy. As systems get ever smaller, fluctuations of these quantities become increasingly relevant, prompting the development of stochastic thermodynamics. Recently we have seen a surge of interest in exploring the quantum regime, where the origin of fluctuations is quantum rather than thermal. Many questions, such as the role of entanglement and the emergence of thermalisation, lie wide open. Answering these questions may lead to the development of quantum heat engines and refrigerators, as well as to vitally needed simple descriptions of quantum many-body systems.

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