Information in Nonequilibrium Quantum Thermodynamics
TWCF Number
Project Duration
December 15 / 2018
- December 14 / 2021
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
Amount Awarded

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Patrice Audibert Camati
Institution Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / Délégation Alpes

Energy cannot be created or destroyed in a closed system; this is known as the conservation of energy, or the first law of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy—the percentage of potential energy that is unavailable for conversion into work—of any such isolated system always increases. These laws hold true and are fundamental to the study of all macroscopic phenomena, from phase transitions to efficiency of heat engines.

However, at the microscopic scale, the situation is slightly different. Rather than bodies of water, engines, and other large scale objects, the microscopic world is a swirling environment of atomic and subatomic particles. In this realm, the standard laws of thermodynamics are modified to take into account the unique behaviors of these micro-scale particles. In particular, the second law does not hold up in its macro-scale formulation. Calculations of entropy that do not take into account the information and control of particle dynamics are not accurate; the extracted information used to control the system has to be accounted for together with the entropy itself.

Patrice Audibert Camati of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRF) will investigate the complex and multifaceted role that information itself plays in the nonequilibrium thermodynamics of quantum systems. The resulting theory of quantum thermodynamics of information will not only address the relation of information to energy and entropy, but connect information itself to non-intuitive quantum phenomena, such as interference, entanglement, and the strong influence of the external observer.

This theory will elucidate how information is connected to fundamental physics as well as provide the mathematical tools to address the thermodynamics of second-generation quantum technologies, such as quantum computing and the quantum internet.

Project Resources
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