Supervisors: Dr Janet Anders (University College London- UCL)

Dr Terry Rudolph (Imperial College London)

Thermodynamics of quantum systems away from equilibrium

Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics are closely related fields which are very important both in fundamental and applied sciences. Nevertheless, while most natural phenomena undergo non-equilibrium dynamics, most of the established equations describe only equilibrium and quasi-static processes. Hence, equations for non-equilibrium processes are desirable. Among these, Jarzynski equation is one of the most famous results that links the work associated to a non-equilibrium process to the free energy difference in the equilibrium case.

Recently, there are several generalisations of the Jarzynski equation which take into account the knowledge from measuring the system and the feedback control which is capable of driving the system out of equilibrium differently depending on the different outcomes from the measurement. These equations provide a more understanding about the role of Maxwell's demon in the fundamental thermodynamics.

Nowadays, the advancement of technology enables a microscopic feedback control which is the implementation of Maxwell's demon in a real experiment. I am now co-working with an experimental group to invent an experimental scheme and an analysis method for them to try to verify the mentioned equations. Moreover, we are trying to generalise the Jarzynski equation more and verify it experimentally. These works will provide a lot more insight into the fundamental interplay among knowledge, controllability, equilibrium and non-equilibrium which are at the heart of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.