Quantum Information Thermodynamics in Nanoscale Devices

  • TWCF Number:


  • Project Duration:

    December 29, 2017 - December 28, 2020

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

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  • Amount Awarded:


Director: Natalia Ares

Institution: Chancellors, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford

How can a centuries-old theory on entropy enlighten contemporary understanding of quantum thermodynamics?

In 1867, James Clerk Maxwell imagined a demon that could violate the second law of thermodynamics. In this thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon could take two chambers—operating at thermal equilibrium—and sort them into fast- and slow-moving particles by quickly opening the door to allow the proper particle to pass through a barrier at the proper times. The overall entropy of the chambers would thus decrease.

This experiment has since been extended by physicists to incorporate many experimental systems.

But what happens when the thermodynamics at play are applied to a quantum system?

The project team proposes an experiment pushing the limits of conventional thermodynamics to include quantum effects. They will develop hybrid nanodevices—operating at cryogenic temperatures—that combine electrical and mechanical degrees of freedom to give access to thermodynamic experiments at the nanoscale.


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