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Quantum thermodynamics

In the physical sciences, quantum thermodynamics is the study of heat and work dynamics in quantum systems. Approximately, quantum thermodynamics attempts to combine thermodynamics and quantum mechanics into a coherent whole. The essential point at which "quantum mechanics" began was when, in 1900, Max Planck outlined the "quantum hypothesis", i.e. that the energy of atomic systems can be quantized, as based on the first two laws of thermodynamics as described by Rudolf Clausius (1865) and Ludwig Boltzman (1877).[1][2] See the history of quantum mechanics for a more detailed outline.



A central objective in quantum thermodynamics is the quantitative and qualitative determination of the laws of thermodynamics at the quantum level in which uncertainty and probability begin to take effect. A fundamental question is: what remains of thermodynamics if one goes to the extreme limit of small quantum systems having a few degrees of freedom? If thermodynamics applies at this level, are the many formulations of the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease, heat flows from high to low temperature, systems evolve towards minimum potential energy wells, energy tends to dissipate, etc., still applicable, or is there a more “universal” formulation?

See also

Physics Portal


  1. ^ Planck, Max. (1900). “Entropy and Temperature of Radiant Heat.” Annalen der Physick, vol. 1. no 4. April, pg. 719-37.
  2. ^ Planck, Max. (1901). "On the Law of Distribution of Energy in the Normal Spectrum". Annalen der Physik, vol. 4, p. 553 ff.

Further reading

  1. Gemmer, J., Michel, M., Mahler, G. (2005). Quantum Thermodynamics – Emergence of Thermodynamic Behavior Within Composite Quantum Systems. Springer. ISBN 3-540-22911-6. 
  2. Rudakov, E.S. (1998). Molecular, Quantum and Evolution Thermodynamics: Development and Specialization of the Gibbs Method.. Donetsk State University Press. ISBN 966-02-0708-5. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Quantum_thermodynamics". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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