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ERC

NanoThermo Report Summary

Project ID: 681456
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NanoThermo (Energy Conversion and Information Processing at Small Scales)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In recent years remarkable progress has been achieved in describing the energetics of small devices which can be artificial synthetic devices (e.g. electronic nanocircuits) or natural ones (e.g. molecular motors). Since these objects are small, understanding how they process energy and information to function requires to develop a theory that accounts for strong environment fluctuations, quantum effects, and strong nonequilibrium drives. The main goal of this project is to develop new concepts and theoretical tools to understand: 1) how one can make use of quantum effects to improve the performance of energy and information processing in such devices 2) understand how biological systems process energy and information at the molecular scale. Progress in these directions would have relevance to develop green and efficient nanotechnologies and to better understand living systems and possible cure diseases.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Important progress has been done in establishing a nonequilibrium quantum thermodynamics, Phys. Rev. E 96, 052132 (2017) & Entropy 18, 447 (2016), and its connection to information theory, Phys. Rev. X 7, 021003 (2017).
We understand much better how to describe thermodynamically small systems interacting strongly with their environment in absence of quantum effect: Phys. Rev. E 95, 062101 (2017).
We identified different strategies (e.g. collective effects between energy transducers) to enhance the performance of energy conversion: EPL 120, 30009 (2017) & EPL 118, 40003 (2017).
We understand better the conditions needed for an effective thermodynamics to hold at the coarse grained level when the microscopic degrees of freedom are not at equilibrium: Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 180601 (2016) & Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 240601 (2017), Phys. Rev. E 94, 062148 (2016).
We established the foundation of a thermodynamics for open chemical reaction networks: Phys. Rev. X 6, 041064 (2016). Information and energetics are very naturally connected by the formalism. This opens the way to study metabolism and signaling in biological cells.
The crucial importance of conservation laws in controlling the nonequilibrium forces driving a system has been well understood: Phys. Rev. E 94, 052117 (2016) & New J. Phys. 20, 023007 (2018).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Within the first 18 months of the project, we made great progress in incorporating quantum effects, collective effects, and strong system-reservoir interactions effects and the effect of conservation laws in stochastic thermodynamics.
The foundation of a nonequilibrium thermodynamics for open chemical reaction networks has been established which open the way towards a better understanding of energy and information transduction in biology.
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