A 4-year PhD position is available to work with Mauro Paternostro on thermodynamics of quantum systems within a recently awarded Leverhulme Trust grant. Details on the project are reported below. Applications from graduate students in Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics are now invited. Applications from interested students should be submitted through the following link. Successful applicants will receive stipend and tuition fees support (EU/Home rate) and support towards research and training activities. Deadline for applications: Wednesday 12 December 2018.
Thermodynamics is one of the pillars upon which science is built. It predicts and explains the occurrence and efficiency of complex chemical reactions and biological processes. In physics and engineering, the conduction of heat, the concept of the arrow of time and the efficiency of motors are formulated in thermodynamic terms. In information theory, the definitions of information and entropy are explicitly related to thermodynamics. The relevance of this field extends all the way down to the most routine of our activities: cars, heat pumps and fridges work and are designed according to the principles of thermodynamics.
The key ingredient of thermodynamics are thermal fluctuations: temperature makes the energy of a particle in a gas fluctuate. This occurs all the way down to the microscopic, single-atom level. Yet, when we are interested in the thermodynamic properties of such elementary constituents of matter, we should include in our description the predictions of quantum theory. In such a framework, “quantum” fluctuations are key: these are intrinsically different from the classical thermal one, and occur even when the temperature of the system is zero.
While we are aware of the possibility to describe thermal and quantum fluctuations under the unifying umbrella of “quantum thermodynamics” — i.e. the generalisation of classical thermodynamics to a quantum context — there is no experimental demonstration, so far, of the possibility to harness quantum fluctuations to the advantage of thermodynamic tasks. This project will provide exactly such much needed, long sought-after evidence by working towards the demonstration of the first working engine that operates fully within the quantum domain.
The goal of this project is to kick-start the research on devices using quantum thermodynamics for a new paradigm of quantum technologies. We will aim at achieving enabling technological and scientific objectives that will embody crucial stepping stones towards the implementation of quantum thermodynamic machines. Specifically:
(i) We will understand the fundamental mechanism that rules the energy-exchange processes undergone by our elementary working medium and its environment. Such understanding is thus the key to ground the quantum counterpart of thermodynamics, and to build prototypes of quantum thermo- machines.
(iii) We will demonstrate theoretically a fully operational quantum thermo-machine based on a single atom, characterising its efficiency against quantum resources consumed/created across their lifetime. (iii): We will enhance the performance of such machines through the use of sophisticated quantum control techniques, with the aim of widening the gap between classical machines and quantum devices. (iv): We will extend the architecture for a quantum engine to many-particle working media. This will open up the possibility to exploit quantum many-body physics to enhance the functionalities of quantum engines.