Researchers develop new variant of Maxwell's demon at nanoscale

phys.org | 7/5/2017 | Staff
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Continuous version of Maxwell's demon is able to extract large amounts of work arbitrarily per cycle through repeated measurements of the state of a system. Credit: M. Ribezzi-Crivellari et al.

Maxwell's demon is a machine proposed by James Clerk Maxwell in 1897. The hypothetical machine would use thermal fluctuations to obtain energy, apparently violating the second principle of thermodynamics. Now, researchers at the University of Barcelona have presented the first theoretical and experimental solution of a continuous version of Maxwell's demon in a single molecule system. The results, published in the journal Nature Physics, have applications in other fields, such as biological and quantum systems.

Simplicity - Amount - Work - Field - Variant

"Despite its simplicity and the large amount of work in the field, this new variant of the classical Maxwell demon has remained unexplored until now," notes Fèlix Ritort, professor from the Department of Fundamental Physics of the UB. "In this study, we introduced a system able to extract large amounts of work arbitrarily per cycle through repeated measurements of the state of a system."

Waiting for such a propitious occasion to get benefits is the same behavioural pattern of a speculator waiting for the right moment in stock exchange, or a predator waiting for a prey to come near. "From a thermodynamics point of view, that certain intuitive aspect in trying to look for the right moment is what takes more energy. The answer is whether it is possible to get the same energy from the propitious moment than the inverted one in the searching process, i.e. through a thermodynamically reversible process," notes Marco Ribezzi, researcher at the UB and the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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