Thermodynamic irreversibility does arise from quantum dynamics

Posted October 18, 2018 by Andrew Brown

An international collaboration led by the Quantum Technology group at Queen’s University (QTeQ) has made an important breakthrough in quantum thermodynamics.

Quantum theory suggests that we should be able to reverse time, whereas our experience (thermodynamics) tells us otherwise. The resolution of this apparent contradiction has eluded scientists until now.

The theoretical framework was developed by Queen’s physicists G De Chiara, A Ferraro and M Paternostro, together with their former PhD students Matteo Brunelli and Lorenzo Fusco and collaborators from the University of Sao Paulo and the Federal University of ABC.

Experimentalists at ETH Zurich and the University of Vienna then performed two experiments to show that macroscopic thermodynamic irreversibility does in fact arise from the fundamental laws of quantum dynamics.

The results– now published in the prestigious pages of Physical Review Letters, the leading journal in Physics– have been deemed worthy of an Editors’ Suggestion and a Synopsis, an honour that only a small fraction of the manuscripts accepted to this journal receive in light of their significance and contribution.

This is only the latest result of the intense research activity at QTeQ focusing on the thermodynamics of quantum systems, a field where Queen’s scientists are recognised as leaders and pioneers.

New paper in Nature Quantum Information

Posted September 28, 2018 by Andrew Brown

CTAMOP research fellow Ricardo Puebla has published an article in the prestigious journal Nature Quantum Information.

The key finding of the work is that dynamics of nonlinearly-interacting light-matter systems can be described using just linear terms and spin rotations.

The article draws a connection between a generic model involving nonlinear interactions (i.e., emission/absorption of many photons at the same time from the same particle) with a simpler model involving just linear terms and spin rotation. This connection allows the dynamics of nonlinearly-interacting systems to be simulated without actually including nonlinearities.

Such models describe many disparate quantum systems, and are thus both of fundamental and technological interest.

Review paper in ROPP

Posted June 25, 2018 by Andrew Brown

Dr. Gabriele De Chiara has published an authoritative review paper in the journal Reports on Progress in Physics.

The paper, co-authored with Dr. Anna Sanpera of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, surveys the latest developments in the field of quantum correlations, including entanglement, non-locality and discord in the analysis of many-body systems.

This is a rich and extremely active field encompassing topics from condensed matter physics to quantum information theory.

Reports on Progress in Physics publishes review articles covering all branches of physics, written by invited authors who are worldwide experts in their field.

CTAMOP researcher wins prestigious Springer Thesis Prize

Posted by Andrew Brown

Ricardo Puebla Congratulations to CTAMOP post-doc, Ricardo Puebla, who has been awarded a Springer Prize for his PhD thesis.

Springer Theses collects the “best of the best” PhD theses in Physics and Chemistry from around the world. Top-ranked research institutes select their best thesis annually for publication in this series. Nominated and endorsed by two recognized specialists, each thesis is chosen for its scientific excellence and impact on research.

Completed under the supervision of Martin Plenio at the University of Ulm, Ricardo’s PhD research focused on understanding how the well-established equilibrium properties of phase transitions can be extended into a nonequilibrium scenario, going beyond the celebrated Kibble-Zurek mechanism of defect formation.

Ricardo is currently undertaking a research project in the realm of open quantum systems funded by the DfE-SFI investigator programme, which involves disparate aspects of light-matter interacting systems, quantum simulation and quantum information processing.

New PRL on positronium interactions with atoms

Posted June 12, 2018 by Andrew Brown

Positronium (Ps) is a light ‘atom’ that consists of an electron and its antiparticle (positron). This simplest matter-antimatter system is of fundamental importance for testing quantum electrodynamics, and is widely used in condensed matter for probing voids and free space, and as a precursor for making antihydrogen at CERN. In spite of its importance, the interaction and collisions of low-energy Ps with normal matter, e.g., atoms or molecules, are not fully understood. Theoretically, the problem is made challenging by the effect of structure of both the projectile and target.

In their latest paper Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 183402 Dermot Green, Andrew Swann and Gleb Gribakin from the CTAMOP Antimatter and Atomic Many-body Theory Group present a new first-principles theoretical approach to describe Ps interactions with noble-gas atoms, which takes account of the distortion of the Ps and the atom during their interaction. Notably, they demonstrate that their approach gives the best agreement with experiment for the pick-off annihilation rate (where the positron from positronium annihilates with one of the atomic electrons), resolving a long-standing discrepancy between theory and experiment.

New Journal of Physics: 2017 Reviewer Award to CTAMOP member

Posted June 5, 2018 by Andrew Brown

Gabriele De Chiara has been awarded for the second year in a row the title of “Outstanding Reviewer” in 2017 for New Journal of Physics published by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

A full list of the awards can be found here.

“IOP is proud to recognize excellence in reviewing, and each year the journal editorial teams select the best reviewers of the year based on the quality, quantity and timeliness of their reviews.”

Editorial Role for CTAMOP Member

Posted April 3, 2018 by Andrew Brown

Prof. Mauro Paternostro has been appointed Editorial Board Member of the Springer journal EPJ Quantum Technology

The journal covers theoretical and experimental advances in subjects spanning the whole breadth of quantum technologies. Prof. Kai Bongs (University of Birmingham) has recently taken over the founding editor Prof. Gerard Milburn (University of Queensland) to lead the journal towards its consolidation as an attractive and authoritative stage for research outputs in the filed of quantum technology.

Mauro’s appointment is a token of the role that the Quantum technology Group at Queen’s is playing in the arena of quantum information processing and quantum technology.

Project TEQ funded by EC

Posted February 15, 2018 by Andrew Brown

A consortium involving CTAMOP researchers has been awarded nearly £4m in funding to test the quantum-superposition principle.

The consortium comprises researchers from CTAMOP, the University of Southampton, University College London, photonics technology company M Squared, and the University of Trieste and has been awarded €4.4m (£3.9m) from the European Commission.

The full story can be found here

New Postgraduate Project Available

Posted November 24, 2017 by Ian Stewart

A new project proposal for PhD study in the Centre for Theoretical Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics (CTAMOP) have now been made available through the centre’s website. The closing date is 15th December 2017.

Full details of the project can be found in the postgraduate studies section of the website and from there applications can be submitted online. We are happy to receive applications from all interested parties.

If you would like to discuss a project with a potential supervisor, contact details can be found in the project descriptions. For general queries about PhD study, please contact Prof. Mauro Paternostro.

Two new Doctors from CTAMOP

Posted November 20, 2017 by Andrew Brown

Two CTAMOP PhD students have successfully navigated their PhD vivas.

Michael Turkington, who has been working with Connor Ballance on heavy species R-matrix calculations in support of fusion diagnostics defended his thesis on 30th October. Dr. Martin O’Mullane from the University of Strathclyde was the external examiner.

Ruari McCloskey returned to the department from his job at Allstate insurance on 17th November to defend his thesis on dynamic and logical irreversibility in open quantum systems. Ruari was co-supervised by Mauro Paternostro, Alessandro Ferraro, and Gabriele De Chiara, and was examined by Dr. Bassano Vacchini from Milan University.

Congratulations to both Michael and Ruari and their supervisory teams.

News Archive

View Older News Posts


We are a Research Cluster of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Our research interests are focused primarily on computational and theoretical physics.

Old Physics Building

The Old Physics Building,
where CTAMOP is situated.