Engineered swift equilibration of a Brownian particle

Ignacio Martinez 1 Artyom Petrosyan 1 David Guéry-Odelin 2 Emmanuel Trizac 3 Sergio Ciliberto 1

Nature Physics, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 12, pp.843-846. <10.1038/nphys3758>

A fundamental and intrinsic property of any device or natural system is its relaxation time relax, which is the time it takes to return to equilibrium after the sudden change of a control parameter [1]. Reducing τ relax , is frequently necessary, and is often obtained by a complex feedback process. To overcome the limitations of such an approach, alternative methods based on driving have been recently demonstrated [2, 3], for isolated quantum and classical systems [4–9]. Their extension to open systems in contact with a thermostat is a stumbling block for applications. Here, we design a protocol,named Engineered Swift Equilibration (ESE), that shortcuts time-consuming relaxations, and we apply it to a Brownian particle trapped in an optical potential whose properties can be controlled in time. We implement the process experimentally, showing that it allows the system to reach equilibrium times faster than the natural equilibration rate. We also estimate the increase of the dissipated energy needed to get such a time reduction. The method paves the way for applications in micro and nano devices, where the reduction of operation time represents as substantial a challenge as miniaturization [10]. The concepts of equilibrium and of transformations from an equilibrium state to another, are cornerstones of thermodynamics. A textbook illustration is provided by the expansion of a gas, starting at equilibrium and expanding to reach a new equilibrium in a larger vessel. This operation can be performed either very slowly by a piston, without dissipating energy into the environment, or alternatively quickly, letting the piston freely move to reach the new volume.

  • 1. Phys-ENS – Laboratoire de Physique de l’ENS Lyon
  • 2. Atomes Froids (LCAR)
  • 3. LPTMS – Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques
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