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Theses Doctoral

Quantum Theory of Entropy Production

Solano-Carrillo, Edgardo S.

In this thesis we develop an approach to nonequilibrium quantum-statistical mechanics which is based on the consideration of the thermodynamic entropy as being a quantum observable with an associated hermitian operator and with its own equation of motion, from which the rate of entropy production can be studied. The relationship of this quantum observable---the expectation value of which is proved to obey the laws of thermodynamics and is thus called the thermodynamic entropy---with heat dissipation in quantum many-body systems is investigated in detail.
After showing how the classical theory of nonequilibrium thermodynamics is obtained from our entropy-production formalism in the limit of very weakly coupled subsystems of a larger isolated quantum system, the solution of the equation of motion for the thermodynamic entropy operator is formally obtained and applied to the case of electrons interacting with phonons and being driven by an external electric field, arriving at an explicit expression for the Joule heat without any a priori consideration of the rate of change of the energy of the system.
Finally, the formalism is applied to solve a puzzle introduced with the most basic model for atom-light interactions: the Jaynes-Cummings model. Without using the correct thermodynamic arguments implied by our entropy-production theory, this model leads to the conclusion that a stream of two-level atoms sent to a cavity filled with monochromatic photons---in the so called one-atom maser configuration---thermalize, under off-resonant conditions, to a temperature different from that of the photons, casting doubts on the validity of the principle of conservation of energy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Millis, Andrew J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 7, 2018