Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists build engine consisting of one atom

15.04.2016

World’s smallest heat engine uses just a single particle

An article in the latest edition of the journal Science describes an innovative form of heat engine that operates using only one single atom. The engine is the result of experiments undertaken by the QUANTUM work group at the Institute of Physics of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in collaboration with theoretical physicists of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU).


Part of the laser system used to alternately heat and cool the atom

photo/©: AG Quantum, JGU


View of the vacuum chamber containing the atom trap (center)

photo/©: AG Quantum, JGU

Heat engines have played an important role in shaping society ever since the Industrial Revolution. As in the case of motor vehicle engines, they transform thermal energy into mechanical force, and our modern lifestyle would be impossible without them. At the same time, progress in miniaturization is resulting in the creation of ever smaller devices.

A team of researchers led by Professor Kilian Singer, head of the project at Mainz University and now Professor at the University of Kassel, used a Paul trap to capture a single electrically charged calcium atom. This atom can be heated with the help of electrically-generated noise and cooled by using a laser beam. As a result, the atom is subjected to a thermodynamic cycle. This means that the particle moves back and forth within the trap, thus replicating the stroke of a typical engine. The atom not only acts in the same way as an engine but also stores the energy.

The researchers performed extensive tests to determine the thermodynamic behavior of their engine. They state in their publication that their single particle engine can generate power of 10-22 watts and operates at 0.3 percent efficiency. If the power of the single atom engine was scaled up from the tiny mass of an atom, its output would be equivalent to that of a car engine. “By reversing the cycle, we could even use the device as a single atom refrigerator and employ it to cool nano systems coupled to it,” explained Johannes Roßnagel, first author of the study.

However, the principal objective of this research is that the creation of a nano-engine of this kind provides insight into thermodynamics at the single-particle level, which is currently a very hot topic in research. Plans are afoot to further lower the operating temperature of the engine in order to investigate thermodynamic quantum effects. In theory, it is assumed that the power of a heat engine can be increased by linking it to a quantum heat bath, thus providing a wealth of possibilities that can be used to move beyond the standard accepted boundaries of classical thermodynamics and construct new types of engines.

The project is part of the "Single ion heat engine" project funded through a research grant of the German Research Foundation and received further funding within the "Atomic nano assembler" project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Publication:
Johannes Roßnagel et al.
A single-atom heat engine
Science, 15 April 2016
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6320

Images:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/08_physik_quantum_ein_atom_motor_01.jpg
View of the vacuum chamber containing the atom trap (center)
photo/©: AG Quantum, JGU

http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/08_physik_quantum_ein_atom_motor_02.jpg
Part of the laser system used to alternately heat and cool the atom
photo/©: AG Quantum, JGU

http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/08_physik_quantum_ein_atom_motor_03.jpg
(fltr) Professor Kilian Singer (project head), PhD student Johannes Roßnagel, and Professor Ferdinand Schmidt-Kaler (head of the QUANTUM group) in front of the experimental equipment used to create the heat engine in the laboratory at Mainz University
photo/©: AG Quantum, JGU

Further information:
Johannes Roßnagel
Quantum, Atomic, and Neutron Physics (QUANTUM)
Institute of Physics
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-23671
fax +49 6131 39-23428
e-mail: j.rossnagel@uni-mainz.de
http://www.quantenbit.physik.uni-mainz.de/quantum-thermodynamics/

Professor Dr. Kilian Singer
Experimental Physics I / Light-Matter Interaction
Institute of Physics
University of Kassel
Heinrich-Plett-Straße 40
34132 Kassel, GERMANY
phone +49 561 804-4235
fax +49 561 804-4518
e-mail: ks@uni-kassel.de
https://www.uni-kassel.de/fb10/en/institutes/physics/research-groups/light-matte...

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/20212_ENG_HTML.php - press release ;
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6283/325 – Article in Science ;
http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/17045_ENG_HTML.php – press release "Physicists at Mainz University build plot prototype of a single ion heat engine", Feb. 3, 2014 ;
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/10/scientists-build-heat-engine-single-atom –Science article "Scientists build heat engine from a single atom", Oct. 21, 2015

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New material for splitting water
19.06.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing
19.06.2018 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>