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Brownian Carnot engine



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Martínez, Ignacio A. and Roldán, Édgar and Dinis Vizcaíno, Luis Ignacio and Petrov, Dmitri and Rodríguez Parrondo, Juan Manuel and Rica, Raúl A. (2016) Brownian Carnot engine. Nature physics, 12 (1). pp. 67-70. ISSN 1745-2473


Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys3518


The Carnot cycle imposes a fundamental upper limit to the efficiency of a macroscopic motor operating between two thermal baths. However, this bound needs to be reinterpreted at microscopic scales, where molecular bio-motors and some artificial micro-engines operate. As described by stochastic thermodynamics, energy transfers in microscopic systems are random and thermal fluctuations induce transient decreases of entropy, allowing for possible violations of the Carnot limit. Here we report an experimental realization of a Carnot engine with a single optically trapped Brownian particle as the working substance. We present an exhaustive study of the energetics of the engine and analyse the fluctuations of the finite-time efficiency, showing that the Carnot bound can be surpassed for a small number of non-equilibrium cycles. As its macroscopic counterpart, the energetics of our Carnot device exhibits basic properties that one would expect to observe in any microscopic energy transducer operating with baths at different temperatures. Our results characterize the sources of irreversibility in the engine and the statistical properties of the efficiency-an insight that could inspire new strategies in the design of efficient nano-motors.

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© 2016 Nature publishing group
I.A.M., E.R., D.P. and R.A.R. acknowledge financial support from Fundacio Privada Cellex Barcelona. I.A.M., D.P. and R.A.R. acknowledge financial support from grant NanoMQ (FIS2011-24409, MINECO). I.A.M. acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council Grant OUTEFLUCOP. E.R., L.D. and J.M.R.P. acknowledge financial support from grant ENFASIS (FIS2011-22644, MINECO) and TerMic (FIS2014-52486-R, MINECO). We wish to acknowledge the work of S. Corcuff at the earliest stage of the project and fruitful discussions with R. Brito. D. Petrov passed away on 3 February 2014. He initiated the development of this project while he was the leader of the Optical Tweezers group at ICFO. We mourn the loss of a great colleague and friend.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Physics; Multidisciplinary.
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Nuclear physics
ID Code:37985
Deposited On:02 Jun 2016 15:46
Last Modified:10 Dec 2018 14:57

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