Quantum thermodynamics of single particle systems

Md Manirul Ali, Wei Ming Huang, Wei Min Zhang

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Thermodynamics is built with the concept of equilibrium states. However, it is less clear how equilibrium thermodynamics emerges through the dynamics that follows the principle of quantum mechanics. In this paper, we develop a theory of quantum thermodynamics that is applicable for arbitrary small systems, even for single particle systems coupled with a reservoir. We generalize the concept of temperature beyond equilibrium that depends on the detailed dynamics of quantum states. We apply the theory to a cavity system and a two-level system interacting with a reservoir, respectively. The results unravels (1) the emergence of thermodynamics naturally from the exact quantum dynamics in the weak system-reservoir coupling regime without introducing the hypothesis of equilibrium between the system and the reservoir from the beginning; (2) the emergence of thermodynamics in the intermediate system-reservoir coupling regime where the Born-Markovian approximation is broken down; (3) the breakdown of thermodynamics due to the long-time non-Markovian memory effect arisen from the occurrence of localized bound states; (4) the existence of dynamical quantum phase transition characterized by inflationary dynamics associated with negative dynamical temperature. The corresponding dynamical criticality provides a border separating classical and quantum worlds. The inflationary dynamics may also relate to the origin of big bang and universe inflation. And the third law of thermodynamics, allocated in the deep quantum realm, is naturally proved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13500
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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