Using quantum effects to improve the operation of small thermal machines

The characterization and control of quantum effects in the performance of thermodynamic tasks may open new avenues for thermal machines working at small scales.

An international collaboration of researchers from IQOQI Vienna (Austria), ICTP Trieste (Italy) and Université Mohammed V of Rabat (Morrocco) has investigated the impact of energetic quantum coherence in the operation of a small thermal machine model which can act either as a heat engine or as a refrigerator. The results show that input coherence enhances the machine performance and allow it to operate in otherwise forbidden regimes. However, in some cases, coherence may also be detrimental, rendering optimization of particular models a crucial task for benefiting from coherence-induced enhancements.