Time-reversal symmetric work distributions for closed quantum dynamics in the histories framework
New Journal of Physics
IOP Publishing for Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
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A central topic in the emerging field of quantum thermodynamics is the definition of thermodynamic work in the quantum regime. One widely used solution is to define work for a closed system undergoing non-equilibrium dynamics according to the two-point energy measurement scheme. However, due to the invasive nature of measurement the two-point quantum work probability distribution cannot describe the statistics of energy change from the perspective of the system alone. We here introduce the quantum histories framework as a method to characterise the thermodynamic properties of the unmeasured, closed dynamics. Constructing continuous power operator trajectories allows us to derive an alternative quantum work distribution for closed quantum dynamics that fulfils energy conservation and is time- reversal symmetric. This opens the possibility to compare the measured work with the unmeasured work, contrasting with the classical situation where measurement does not affect the work statistics. We find that the work distribution of the unmeasured dynamics leads to deviations from the classical Jarzynski equality and can have negative values highlighting distinctly non-classical features of quantum work.
HM is supported by EPSRC through a Doctoral Training Grant. JA acknowledges support from EPSRC, grant EP/M009165/1, and the Royal Society. This research was supported by the COST network MP1209 'Thermodynamics in the quantum regime'.
This is the final version of the article. Available from IOP Publishing via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 19, article 062001
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Open access. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.