Non-equilibrium quantum heat machines

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Standard heat machines (engine, heat pump, refrigerator) are composed of a system (working fluid) coupled to at least two equilibrium baths at different temperatures and periodically driven by an external device (piston or rotor) sometimes called the work reservoir. The aim of this paper is to go beyond this scheme by considering environments which are stationary but cannot be decomposed into a few baths at thermal equilibrium. Such situations are important, for example in solar cells, chemical machines in biology, various realizations of laser cooling or nanoscopic machines driven by laser radiation. We classify non-equilibrium baths depending on their thermodynamic behavior and show that the efficiency of heat machines powered by them is limited by the generalized Carnot bound.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115012
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 24 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • non-equilibrium thermodynamics
  • open quantum systems
  • quantum heat machines
  • quantum thermodynamics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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