Thermodynamics is a branch of science blessed by an unparalleled combination of generality of scope and formal simplicity. Based on few natural assumptions together with the four laws, it sets the boundaries between possible and impossible in macroscopic aggregates of matter. This triggered groundbreaking achievements in physics, chemistry and engineering over the last two centuries. Close analogues of those fundamental laws are now being established at the level of individual quantum systems, thus placing limits on the operation of quantum-mechanical devices. Here we study quantum absorption refrigerators, which are driven by heat rather than external work. We establish thermodynamic performance bounds for these machines and investigate their quantum origin. We also show how those bounds may be pushed beyond what is classically achievable, by suitably tailoring the environmental fluctuations via quantum reservoir engineering techniques. Such superefficient quantum-enhanced cooling realises a promising step towards the technological exploitation of autonomous quantum refrigerators.
- Pub Date:
- February 2014
- Quantum Physics;
- Condensed Matter - Statistical Mechanics;
- Mathematical Physics;
- Physics - Optics
- 12 pages, 4 figures. Published in Scientific Reports (NPG)