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Disputation Paul Valentin Boes

15.02.2021 | 09:30
Thema der Dissertation: Randomness, catalysis and partial knowledge in quantum thermodynamics
Abstract: Quantum thermodynamics is a blossoming research program that uses tools and ideas from quantum information theory to extend the laws of thermodynamics to the domain of sys- tems to which the laws of quantum mechanics apply and the thermodynamic limit does not necessarily apply. The contributions of this program are both foundational, in providing an approach to constructively derive the laws of phenomenological thermodynamics from the postulates of unitary quantum mechanics in a rigorous and bottom-up fashion, but also prac- tical, in providing the theory for an increasing number of experiments that attempt to build thermodynamic machines at scales that were previously inaccessible. One key mathematical tool used in quantum thermodynamics is the framework of resource theories, specifically the resource theory of thermal operations, in which the thermodynamic interaction of a system with a heat bath and various additional components such as work batteries, clocks or catalysts are modeled. In this cumulative thesis, various extensions and modifications of this framework are studied in order to derive novel results and insights about the possible thermodynamic evolution of quantum systems. In particular, following a system- atic exposition of the resource theory of thermal operations from first principles, I develop answers to the following questions: i) What is the smallest heat bath required to provide the necessary randomness for a system to undergo a given stochastic or thermodynamical evolution? ii) Does this size differ depending on whether the interaction between bath and system is quantum or classical? iii) How can quantum systems thermodynamically evolve in the presence of catalytic bystander systems and how can this be put to use? iv) What are the thermodynamic state transitions that an agent can operationally affect when she only has access to partial information about the underlying states of system and bath? v) How can we understand the emergence of the canonical ensemble in statistical thermodynamics from quantum mechanics? These questions cover a wide ground, but it will become clear that they can in fact all be discussed using the same formal tools. As such, the answers to the above questions provided in this thesis are both interesting in their own right — showing for example that there exists a gap in how efficiently randomness can be exploited quantumly as compared to classically or that catalytic bystander systems can be used to extract finite amounts of work per particle from macroscopic systems with non-vanishing probability — as well as illustrate the power of quantum thermodynamics as a set of tools to connect quantum mechanics and the theory of thermodynamics more generally.

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15.02.2021 | 09:30