A single particle has no temperature. It has a sure vitality or a sure velocity — however it isn’t attainable to translate that right into a temperature. Solely when coping with random velocity distributions of many particles, a well-defined temperature emerges.
How can the legal guidelines of thermodynamics come up from the legal guidelines of quantum physics? This can be a matter that has attracted rising consideration lately. At TU Wien (Vienna), this query has now been pursued with pc simulations, which confirmed that chaos performs a vital position: Solely the place chaos prevails do the well-known guidelines of thermodynamics comply with from quantum physics.
Boltzmann: All the things is feasible, however it might be inconceivable
The air molecules randomly flying round in a room can assume an unimaginable variety of totally different states: Completely different areas and totally different speeds are allowed for every particular person particle. However not all of those states are equally possible. “Bodily, it might be attainable for all of the vitality on this house to be transferred to 1 single particle, which might then transfer at extraordinarily excessive speeds whereas all the opposite particles stand nonetheless,” says Prof. Iva Brezinova from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at TU Wien. “However that is so unlikely that it’ll virtually by no means be noticed.”
The possibilities of various allowed states might be calculated — in line with a formulation that the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann arrange in line with the foundations of classical physics. And from this chance distribution, the temperature can then even be learn off: it is just decided for a lot of particles.
The entire world as a single quantum state
Nevertheless, this causes issues when coping with quantum physics. When a lot of quantum particles are in play on the identical time, the equations of quantum principle turn out to be so difficult that even one of the best supercomputers on the planet haven’t any likelihood of fixing them.
In quantum physics, the person particles can’t be thought of independently of one another, as is the case with classical billiard balls. Each billiard ball has its personal particular person trajectory and its personal particular person location at each cut-off date. Quantum particles, alternatively, haven’t any individuality — they’ll solely be described collectively, in a single massive quantum wave operate.
“In quantum physics, the complete system is described by a single massive many-particle quantum state,” says Prof. Joachim Burgdörfer (TU Wien). “How a random distribution and thus a temperature ought to come up from this remained a puzzle for a very long time.”
Chaos principle as a mediator
A workforce at TU Wien has now been capable of present that chaos performs a key position. To do that, the workforce carried out a pc simulation of a quantum system that consists of a lot of particles — many indistinguishable particles (the “warmth tub”) and one in every of a distinct type of particle, the “pattern particle” that acts as a thermometer. Every particular person quantum wave operate of the big system has a particular vitality, however no well-defined temperature — similar to a single classical particle. However in case you now select the pattern particle from the only quantum state and measure its velocity, you’ll be able to surprisingly discover a velocity distribution that corresponds to a temperature that matches the well-established legal guidelines of thermodynamics.
“Whether or not or not it suits depends upon chaos — that’s what our calculations clearly confirmed,” says Iva Brezinova. “We will particularly change the interactions between the particles on the pc and thus create both a very chaotic system, or one which exhibits no chaos in any respect — or something in between.” And in doing so, one finds that the presence of chaos determines whether or not a quantum state of the pattern particle shows a Boltzmann temperature distribution or not.
“With out making any assumptions about random distributions or thermodynamic guidelines, thermodynamic conduct arises from quantum principle all by itself — if the mixed system of pattern particle and warmth tub behaves quantum chaotically. And the way properly this conduct suits the well-known Boltzmann formulae is decided by the energy of the chaos,” explains Joachim Burgdörfer.
This is among the first instances by which the interaction between three necessary theories has been rigorously demonstrated by many-particle pc simulations: quantum principle, thermodynamics and chaos principle.