David Jennings

Florian Mintert

Janet Anders (Exeter)

Physical realisations of quantum thermodynamic phenomena

Quantum thermodynamics investigates the applicability of thermodynamics to quantum systems. Quantum thermodynamics is conceptually challenging in virtue of its seemingly oxymoronic title. Thermodynamics typically concerns the study of the macroscopic bulk behaviour of systems; whereas quantum mechanics is the study of the microscopic constitutes of such systems. Thus two questions arise: Firstly, to what extent are there deviations from classical thermodynamics on the quantum scale and secondly, if there are deviations, how the thermodynamic laws of the bulk behaviour of systems nonetheless emerge from the quantum dynamics of their individual constituents.

Research in quantum thermodynamics is currently dominated by two main communities: those inspired by the successes of quantum information theory (QI) and those coming from a more traditional classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics background. The traditional community posits that the QI inspired research is in places too abstract and detached from reality. The QI community considers the traditional community to lack the flexibility to sufficiently incorporate quantum mechanical phenomena into thermodynamics.

The aim of this project is to improve communication between these two fields by taking recent innovative but abstract developments from within the quantum information community and translating them into concrete experimental scenarios.  In particular, we aim to propose an experiment to verify a quantum Crooks equality, a fluctuation theorem, recently proposed by Johan Aberg.