Paper: Controlling heat and particle currents in nanodevices by quantum observation

We have posted in the arxiv our lates paper:

 

Controlling heat and particle currents in nanodevices by quantum observation

We demonstrate that in a standard thermo-electric nanodevice the current and heat flows are not only dictated by the temperature and potential gradient but also by the external action of a local quantum observer that controls the coherence of the device. Depending on how and where the observation takes place the direction of heat and particle currents can be independently controlled. In fact, we show that the current and heat flow can go against the natural temperature and voltage gradients. Dynamical quantum measurement offers new possibilities for the control of quantum transport far beyond classical thermal reservoirs. Through the concept of local projections, we illustrate how we can create and directionality control the injection of currents (electronic and heat) in nanodevices. This scheme provides novel strategies to construct quantum devices with application in thermoelectrics, spintronic injection, phononics, and sensing among others. In particular, highly efficient and selective spin injection might be achieved by local spin projection techniques.

New Paper: Thermodynamics of quantum coherence

The bizarre microscopic quantum world is exemplified by Schrödinger’s cat, where a quantum mechanical “cat” state is said to be both death and alive simultaneously. This non-classical state is called a quantum coherence. Coherence is at odds with macroscopic realism. Our experience is dominated by thermodynamics, which destroys quantum coherences at our length and time scales.

We decided to study the reverse situation: In the microscopic world, can quantum coherence affect thermodynamics? We have posted a new manuscript titled “Thermodynamics of quantum coherence“.

Thermodynamics of quantum coherence [arXiv:1308.1245]
César A. Rodríguez-Rosario, Thomas Frauenheim, Alán Aspuru-Guzik

Quantum decoherence is seen as an undesired source of irreversibility that destroys quantum resources. Quantum coherences seem to be a property that vanishes at thermodynamic equilibrium. Away from equilibrium, quantum coherences challenge the classical notions of a thermodynamic bath in a Carnot engines, affect the efficiency of quantum transport, lead to violations of Fourier’s law, and can be used to dynamically control the temperature of a state. However, the role of quantum coherence in thermodynamics is not fully understood. Here we show that the relative entropy of a state with quantum coherence with respect to its decohered state captures its deviation from thermodynamic equilibrium. As a result, changes in quantum coherence can lead to a heat flow with no associated temperature, and affect the entropy production rate. From this, we derive a quantum version of the Onsager reciprocal relations that shows that there is a reciprocal relation between thermodynamic forces from coherence and quantum transport. Quantum decoherence can be useful and offers new possibilities of thermodynamic control for quantum transport.

In this paper, we showed that quantum coherences are useful in thermodynamics in an exactly reciprocal manner to the way thermodynamics destroys coherences. This theory suggest that this interplay can lead to improved molecular devices, and to a deeper understanding of energy transport in photosynthesis.The main results of this paper include a generalization of the laws of thermodynamics and of the Onsager reciprocal relations for the quantum regime.  These allowed us to interpret quantum coherences as a new thermodynamic resource. This new theory provides a framework to unify previous results on quantum Carnot engines , thermal control by quantum measurements, quantum coherences in photosynthetic complexes and transport in molecular devices.

The Boring World of Niels Bohr

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The espionage scandals in the news prompts us to revisit how physicists have been under surveillance by the US government, to sometimes hilarious results. During World War II, Niels Bohr (and his son) visited Washington D.C., where they were under secret surveillance. The following declassified report confirms the standard suspicion of quantum physics.

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I type here the relevant part of the report on Niels Bohr:

Both the father and son appear to be extremely absent-minded individuals, engrossed in themselves, and go about paying little attention to any external influences. As they did a great deal of walking, this Agent had occasion to spend considerable time behind them and observe that it was rare when either of them paid much attention to stop lights or signs, but proceeded on their way much the same as if they were walking in the woods. On one occasion, subjects proceeded across a busy intersection against the red light in a diagonal fashion, taking the longest route possible and one of greatest danger. The resourceful work of Agent Maiers in blocking out one half of the stream of automobile traffic with his car prevented their possibly incurring serious injury in this instance.

In conclusion, yes, quantum physicists are very dangerous, but to themselves.