Quantum engine

Quantum engine

Why in news ?

Physicists in Germany have come up with a way to convert the energy difference between two quantum states of a group of atoms into work. The device adapts the principles of the familiar classical engine to the subatomic realm, giving physicists a way to study the nascent field of quantum thermodynamics in more detail as well as, possibly, build better quantum computers.

quantum engine

Quantum Engine :

  • It converts Fermions to Bosons and further Fermions. It has four stages, like Classical engines that convert heat into work.
  • The atoms collected in the trap are compressed and kept in a bosonic state.
  • The strength of a magnetic field applied on the atoms is increased by a small amount.
  • Interactions between the atoms and the field cause the former to slip into a fermionic state. They are forced to move out of the lowest energy level and progressively occupy higher levels.

Working:

  • Classical engines convert heat into work. For example, the internal combustion engine in a car uses the heat released by the combustion of petrol or diesel to push a piston.
  • Overall the engine has four steps: the fuel is compressed, ignition causes the fuel air mix to expand and push the piston out, the mix cools and stops expanding, and the piston is brought back to the first step.
  • The quantum engine, or what the researchers are calling a ‘Pauli engine’ has a similar set of four steps. First, the atoms collected in the trap are compressed and kept in a bosonic state. Second, the strength of a magnetic field applied on the atoms is increased by a small amount. Interactions between the atoms and the field cause the former to slip into a fermionic state: they are forced to move out of the lowest energy level and progressively occupy higher levels.

Efficiency of the Quantum Engine:

  • The energy of the atoms increases during the third step and this can be converted to work.
  • The efficiency of the quantum engine is based on how much more energy is released in the third step relative to the energy added to the system in the first step.

Source – The Hindu

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