Quantum Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics connects our knowledge of the world to our capability to manipulate and thus to control it, with questions regarding resource costs and practical implementations built in to its very core. Thus, it takes a unique position as a truly operational description that applies across all realms of physics — from complex many-body systems to individual quantum particles. We are generally interested in the ability to process information in a thermodynamic world, from both a practical and foundational perspective.

In the quantum realm in particular, the cost of control often outweighs any potential “quantum advantage” to be had. The spirit of thermodynamics invokes assumptions of minimal information and control at the very outset, thereby mitigating such costs and making it a natural suitor to develop practical information-processing protocols. How close can one get to saturating the ultimate limitations, such as the Laws of Thermodynamics and Landauer’s bound [1]? How should one optimally allocate resources to achieve certain difficult tasks, such as cooling or erasing information [1,2], storing and retrieving energy [3,4], or creating correlations [5,6]?

From a more foundational perspective, many thermodynamic questions remain unsatisfactorily answered. Loosely speaking, at the level of individual particles or trajectories, most dynamical phenomena are incredibly complex; but at the macroscopic level, we typically record rather simple observations. How exactly does thermodynamic behaviour — such as equilibration, thermalisation [7], and memorlyessness —  emerge from said underlying complexity? What is the cost of and ultimate limitations of control for important tasks such as performing perfect measurements [8,9] and precise time-keeping [10,11]? And can one use thermodynamic arguments to derive the forms of possible physical laws?


  1. Philip Taranto, Faraj Bakhshinezhad, Andreas Bluhm, Ralph Silva, Nicolai Friis, Maximilian P. E. Lock, Giuseppe Vitagliano, Felix C. Binder, Tiago Debarba, Emanuel Schwarzhans, Fabien Clivaz, and Marcus Huber, Landauer vs. Nernst: What is the True Cost of Cooling a Quantum System? arXiv:2106.05151 [quant-ph] (2021).
  2. Philip Taranto, Faraj Bakhshinezhad, Philipp Schüttelkopf, Fabien Clivaz, Marcus Huber, Exponential Improvement for Quantum Cooling through Finite-Memory Effects, Phys. Rev. Appl. 14, 054005 (2020) [arXiv:2004.00323].
  3. Nicolai Friis, Marcus Huber, Precision and Work Fluctuations in Gaussian Battery Charging, Quantum 2, 61 (2018) [arXiv:1708.00749].
  4. Eric G. Brown, Nicolai Friis, and Marcus Huber, Passivity and practical work extraction using Gaussian operations, New J. Phys. 18, 113028 (2016) [arXiv:1608.04977].
  5. Faraj Bakhshinezhad, Fabien Clivaz, Giuseppe Vitagliano, Paul Erker, Ali Rezakhani, Marcus Huber, and Nicolai Friis, Thermodynamically optimal creation of correlations, J. Phys. A Math. Theor. 52, 465303 (2019) [arXiv:1904.07942].
  6. Giuseppe Vitagliano, Claude Klöckl, Marcus Huber, and Nicolai Friis, Trade-off Between Work and Correlations in Quantum Thermodynamics, in: Thermodynamics in the Quantum Regime - Fundamental Aspects and New Directions, Chapter 30, Felix Binder, Luis A. Correa, Christian Gogolin, Janet Anders, and Gerardo Adesso (eds.), Springer International Publishing, 2019; [arXiv:1803.06884].
  7. Fabio Anza, Christian Gogolin, Marcus Huber, Eigenstate Thermalization for Degenerate Observables, Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 150603 (2018) [arXiv:1708.02881].
  8. Yelena Guryanova, Nicolaii Friis, Marcus Huber, Ideal Projective Measurements Have Infinite Resource Costs, Quantum 4, 222 (2020) [arXiv:1805.11899].
  9. Tiago Debarba, Gonzalo Manzano, Yelena Guryanova, Marcus Huber, and Nicolai Friis, Work estimation and work fluctuations in the presence of non-ideal measurements, New J. Phys. 21, 113002 (2019) [arXiv:1902.08568].
  10. Emanuel Schwarzhans, Maximilian P. E. Lock, Paul Erker, Nicolai Friis, and Marcus Huber, Autonomous Temporal Probability Concentration: Clockworks and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Phys. Rev. X 11, 011046 (2021) [arXiv:2007.01307].
  11. Anna Pearson, Yelena Guryanova, Paul Erker, Edward Laird, G. A. D. Briggs, Marcus Huber, and Natalia Ares, Measuring the Thermodynamic Cost of Timekeeping, Phys. Rev. X 11, 021029 (2021) [arXiv:2006.08670].