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Extracting Work from a Single Heat Bath via Vanishing Quantum Coherence

Science  07 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5608, pp. 862-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.1078955

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Abstract

We present here a quantum Carnot engine in which the atoms in the heat bath are given a small bit of quantum coherence. The induced quantum coherence becomes vanishingly small in the high-temperature limit at which we operate and the heat bath is essentially thermal. However, the phase φ, associated with the atomic coherence, provides a new control parameter that can be varied to increase the temperature of the radiation field and to extract work from a single heat bath. The deep physics behind the second law of thermodynamics is not violated; nevertheless, the quantum Carnot engine has certain features that are not possible in a classical engine.

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