Category: Department News
Published: Tuesday, February 22 2011 10:13
Maxwell's Demon is a theoretical construct introduced by James Clerk Maxwell in an attempt to understand the microscopic foundations of the second law of thermodynamics. Maxwell's thought experiment points to a subtle relationship between thermodynamics and information, and has provided food for thought for generations of physicists. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in this topic, in part due to advances in experimental tools for manipulating nanoscale systems. The Viewpoint essay by Alumnus Jordan Horowitz, '10, and Juan Parrondo discusses a Physical Review Letter on the interplay between Maxwell's demon and quantum mechanics, highlighting the effects introduced by the quantum statistics of fermions and bosons. This research elegantly combines information theory, the second law of thermodynamics and quantum behavior.