Quantum thermodynamics at the nanoscale

Maxwell’s demon, born in 1867, revealed the classical relationship between entropy and information and still thrives in modern physics. This intelligent agent had information about the velocities and positions of the particles in a gas, and could therefore transfer the fast, hot particles from a cold reservoir to a hot one, in apparent violation of the second law of thermodynamics. This finding exposed the necessity to refine the second law of thermodynamics to incorporate information explicitly, as well as to clarify the physical nature of information.

In the quantum world, the classical connection between information and thermodynamics has to be revised. We will fabricate devices at nanometre scales, merely a dozen atoms across, and hold them at temperatures far colder than even deepest outer space. Here quantum rather than classical laws will apply, and so we can explore the link between information and thermodynamics in the quantum world. In the same way that thermodynamics was key to building classical steam engines, the emergence of quantum machines is forcing us to reimagine thermodynamics in the quantum realm.

This EPSRC-funded 3.5 year DPhil in Materials DTP studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a student with Home/Republic of Ireland or Islands fee status.  The stipend will be at least £16,285 per year.  Information on fee status can be found at http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/fees-and-funding/fees-and-other-charges.

Candidates will be considered in the November 2020 admissions field which has an application deadline of 13 November 2020 and, if the studentship is unfilled, in the January 2021 admissions field which has an application deadline of 22 January 2021.  

Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Dr Natalia Ares (natalia.ares@materials.ox.ac.uk).  General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e mail to graduate.studies@materials.ox.ac.uk.  You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies.  Further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found at https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford.

schematic of energy release changing quantum state


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