QTI Lectures

Quantum steampunk: Quantum information meets thermodynamics

by Nicole Yunger Halpern (University of Maryland)

31/3-004 - IT Amphitheatre (CERN)

31/3-004 - IT Amphitheatre


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Thermodynamics has shed light on engines, efficiency, and time’s arrow since the Industrial Revolution. But the steam engines that powered the Industrial Revolution were large and classical. Much of today’s technology and experiments are small-scale, quantum, far from equilibrium, and processing information. Nineteenth-century thermodynamics needs re-envisioning for the 21st century. Guidance has come from the mathematical toolkit of quantum information theory. Applying quantum information theory to thermodynamics sheds light on fundamental questions (e.g., how does entanglement spread during quantum thermalization? How can we distinguish quantum heat from quantum work?) and practicalities (e.g., quantum engines and the thermodynamic value of coherences). I will overview how quantum information theory is being used to revolutionize thermodynamics in quantum steampunk, named for the steampunk genre of literature, art, and cinema that juxtaposes futuristic technologies with 19th-century settings.

Bio Dr Nicole Yunger Halpern:

Nicole Yunger Halpern is a theoretical physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science, and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Maryland. Nicole completed her PhD at Caltech, winning the international Ilya Prigogine Prize for a thermodynamics thesis. While an ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, she won the International Quantum Technology Emerging Researcher Award. Other accolades include the US ASPIRE Prize and the Mary Somerville Medal. Nicole re-envisions 19th-century thermodynamics for the 21st century, using quantum information theory. She has dubbed this research “quantum steampunk,” after the steampunk genre of art and literature that juxtaposes Victorian settings with futuristic technologies. She has described this field in a book for the general public, Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday’s Tomorrow. 

*Please note that registration is required for this event.

**As part of her visit to CERN, Dr Nicole Yunger Halpern will give a public talk at the Sparks! Future Quantum event and present her book in the CERN library. Make sure to check out the details to know more.

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QTI room "Richard Feynman"
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Anastasiia Lazuka
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Miguel Angel Marquina, Pascal Pignereau
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