Quantum thermodynamics

Research lead: Janet Anders

This area of research focusses on the interplay of quantum and thermal fluctuations in quantum systems, and the extension of thermodynamics to the quantum regime.

Quantum thermodynamics research underpins technological developments that miniaturise to the nanoscale with applications expected for nano- and quantum machines, data storage, and quantum computation and communication.

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Current projects

Work in the quantum regime

Work and heat are energetic exchanges between a physical system with an external control and a heat bath, respectively. In classical thermodynamics they play a key role in establishing the efficiency of thermal machines, such as engines and fridges. We investigate how work and heat concepts generalize to the quantum regime where, unlike in the classical macroscopic world, superpositions between energetic states are possible.

Contact: Dr Janet AndersDr Thomas Philbin


Thermodynamics beyond the weak coupling limit

Standard thermodynamics rests on the assumption that the physical system, such as an ideal gas, is only weakly coupled to its environment.

However, for nanoscale systems this assumption breaks down.

We investigate if an effective description of the system can be found, including interactions, such that thermodynamic laws and non-equilibrium fluctuation relations continue to hold.

Contact: Dr Janet AndersDr Thomas Philbin


Temperature at the nanoscale

Measuring the temperature of nanoscale objects can be a challenge. In part, this is due to the inability to directly couple them to a gauged thermometer and even if this succeeds, this coupling can significantly affect the temperature readout.

We investigate new methods to infer the temperature and temperature gradients of nanoscale objects, such as heated nanospheres, taking into account non-equilibrium effects as well as finite size corrections.

Contact: Dr Janet AndersDr Thomas Philbin