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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 18, 2023
  2. Abstract

    The complete physical understanding of the optimization of the thermodynamic work still is an important open problem in stochastic thermodynamics. We address this issue using the Hamiltonian approach of linear response theory in finite time and weak processes. We derive the Euler–Lagrange equation associated and discuss its main features, illustrating them using the paradigmatic example of driven Brownian motion in overdamped regime. We show that the optimal protocols obtained either coincide, in the appropriate limit, with the exact solutions by stochastic thermodynamics or can be even identical to them, presenting the well-known jumps. However, our approach reveals that jumps at the extremities of the process are a good optimization strategy in the regime of fast but weak processes for any driven system. Additionally, we show that fast-but-weak optimal protocols are time-reversal symmetric, a property that has until now remained hidden in the exact solutions far from equilibrium.

  3. Thermodynamics originated in the need to understand novel technologies developed by the Industrial Revolution. However, over the centuries, the description of engines, refrigerators, thermal accelerators, and heaters has become so abstract that a direct application of the universal statements to real-life devices is everything but straight forward. The recent, rapid development of quantum thermodynamics has taken a similar trajectory, and, e.g., “quantum engines” have become a widely studied concept in theoretical research. However, if the newly unveiled laws of nature are to be useful, we need to write the dictionary that allows us to translate abstract statements of theoretical quantum thermodynamics to physical platforms and working mediums of experimentally realistic scenarios. To assist in this endeavor, this review is dedicated to provide an overview over the proposed and realized quantum thermodynamic devices and to highlight the commonalities and differences of the various physical situations.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  4. While quantum phase transitions share many characteristics with thermodynamic phase transitions, they are also markedly different as they occur at zero temperature. Hence, it is not immediately clear whether tools and frameworks that capture the properties of thermodynamic phase transitions also apply in the quantum case. Concerning the crossing of thermodynamic critical points and describing its non-equilibrium dynamics, the Kibble–Zurek mechanism and linear response theory have been demonstrated to be among the very successful approaches. In the present work, we show that these two approaches are also consistent in the description of quantum phase transitions, and that linear response theory can even inform arguments of the Kibble–Zurek mechanism. In particular, we show that the relaxation time provided by linear response theory gives a rigorous argument for why to identify the “gap” as a relaxation rate, and we verify that the excess work computed from linear response theory exhibits Kibble–Zurek scaling.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  7. Abstract It is an established fact that quantum coherences have thermodynamic value. The natural question arises, whether other genuine quantum properties such as entanglement can also be exploited to extract thermodynamic work. In the present analysis, we show that the ergotropy can be expressed as a function of the quantum mutual information, which demonstrates the contributions to the extractable work from classical and quantum correlations. More specifically, we analyze bipartite quantum systems with locally thermal states, such that the only contribution to the ergotropy originates in the correlations. Our findings are illustrated for a two-qubit system collectively coupled to a thermal bath.
  8. Envariance is a symmetry exhibited by correlated quantum systems. Inspired by this “quantum fact of life,” we propose a novel method for shortcuts to adiabaticity, which enables the system to evolve through the adiabatic manifold at all times, solely by controlling the environment. As the main results, we construct the unique form of the driving on the environment that enables such dynamics, for a family of composite states of arbitrary dimension. We compare the cost of this environment-assisted technique with that of counterdiabatic driving, and we illustrate our results for a two-qubit model.