MECHANICAL EQUIVALENT OF QUANTUM HEAT ENGINES

Jacques Arnaud, Laurent Chusseau, Fabrice Philippe

Physical Review E 77, 061102, 03/06/2008

ABSTRACT

Quantum heat engines employ as working agents multilevel systems instead of classical gases. We show that under some conditions quantum heat engines are equivalent to a series of reservoirs at different altitudes containing balls of various weights. A cycle consists of picking up at random a ball from one reservoir and carrying it to the next, thereby performing or absorbing some work. In particular, quantum heat engines, employing two-level atoms as working agents, are modeled by reservoirs containing balls of weight 0 or 1. The mechanical model helps us prove that the maximum efficiency of quantum heat engines is the Carnot efficiency. Heat pumps and negative temperatures are considered.

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