The local approach to quantum transport may violate the second law of thermodynamics

Amikam Levy, Ronnie Kosloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clausius statement of the second law of thermodynamics reads: Heat will flow spontaneously from a hot to cold reservoir. This statement should hold for transport of energy through a quantum network composed of small subsystems each coupled to a heat reservoir. When the coupling between nodes is small, it seems reasonable to construct a local master equation for each node in contact with the local reservoir. The energy transport through the network is evaluated by calculating the energy flux after the individual nodes are coupled. We show by analyzing the most simple network composed of two quantum nodes coupled to a hot and cold reservoir, that the local description can result in heat flowing from cold to hot reservoirs, even in the limit of vanishing coupling between the nodes. A global derivation of the master equation which prediagonalizes the total network Hamiltonian and within this framework derives the master equation, is always consistent with the second law of thermodynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20004
JournalJournal de Physique (Paris), Lettres
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


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