Optimizing quantum thermodynamic cooling cycles

  1. Luis Alberto Correa Marichal
Supervised by:
  1. Daniel Alonso Ramírez Director

Defence university: Universidad de La Laguna

Year of defence: 2014

Committee:
  1. Lajos Diósi Chair
  2. Antonia Ruiz García Secretary
  3. Roberta Zambrini Committee member
Department:
  1. Física

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 364830 DIALNET

Abstract

The study of nanoscopic thermal devices attracts an increasing attention, not only because of their key role in understanding the emergence of thermodynamics from quantum theory, but also for the potential use of quantum-mechanical thermal cycles, especially refrigerators, in quantum technologies. This thesis, is devoted to the performance optimization of autonomous (heat-driven) refrigerators. For a quantum refrigerator, one has a full microscopic description of the simple system serving as a working medium, and of its interaction with the external heat baths. This enables a consistent `finite-time¿ thermodynamic analysis, not relying on any phenomenological assumptions about the leading sources of irreversibility, and allows to establish arguably general performance bounds, essential to benchmark the operation of realistic devices. In particular, tight and model-independent upper bounds for the coefficient of performance at maximum power, are derived here for a class of strongly coupled refrigerators, and seen to hold more generally for other types of heat and power-driven cycles. Remarkably, these ultimate limitations only depend on the particulars of the system-baths interaction at the interface with the object to be cooled. Strategies might be then defined so as to saturate those limits: It is shown how the working medium of the refrigerator may be, for instance, scaled up into a parallel multi-stage configuration, resembling that of macroscopic multi-effect absorption chillers, as a means to increase its cooling power. Similarly, by applying reservoir engineering techniques on selected transitions between the energy states of the working medium, one can mimic exploitable non-equilibrium fluctuations in the baths, capable of boosting the overall power and COP beyond what would be otherwise allowed by the second law of thermodynamics. In this way, heat-driven chillers could be set to compete on a equal footing with the best power-driven refrigerators.