All are welcome to join. We will meet for bring your own lunch at 12:30 PM in the same location before the seminar, and you are welcome to join that as well.
Title:Â How does "catalysis" reduce control requirements for thermodynamic processes?
Abstract: From the beginning, thermodynamics has attempted to set the ultimate bounds on what physical processes can achieve. An effective way of generating these general bounds is to start from a set of axioms and study which operations can be implemented. Two reasonably generic axioms (the existence of thermal environments and total energy preservation) defines the set of thermal operations. Thermal operations have proven to be a powerful tool for deriving the limits of feasible thermodynamic processes starting from any initial state, including small and out-of-equilibrium ones. Furthermore, these limits are guaranteed to be fundamental due to the generality of the underlying axioms. However, it is known that these limits can only be achieved with complex operations requiring often unrealistic levels of control over the system. When additional restrictions regarding control requirements are imposed, the limit significantly reduces. We overcome this issue by introducing 'catalysts' in the process. We prove that by including an auxiliary state, the limits predicted by thermal operations can be fully achieved using much simpler operations. Furthermore, these auxiliary states return to their initial states at the end of the process, making them catalytic. In other words, we can improve the process without consuming any resources from the catalyst. We explain this curious phenomenon by the memory effect provided by the catalyst.
References: [1] J. Son and N. H. Y. Ng, A hierarchy of thermal processes collapses under catalysis, arXiv:2303.13020. [2] J. Son and N. H. Y. Ng, Catalysis in action via elementary thermal operations, New J. Phys. 26, 033029 (2024).Â