Reference : The unlikely Carnot efficiency
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Physics
http://hdl.handle.net/10993/18027
The unlikely Carnot efficiency
English
Verley, Gatien mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) > Physics and Materials Science Research Unit >]
Esposito, Massimiliano mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) > Physics and Materials Science Research Unit >]
Willaert, Tim [University of Hasselt > Theoretical Physics]
Van den Broeck, Christian [University of Hasselt > Theoretical Physics]
16-Jul-2014
Nature Communications
Nature Pub.lishing Group
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
International
2041-1723
London
United Kingdom
[en] The efficiency of an heat engine is traditionally defined as the ratio of its average output work
over its average input heat. Its highest possible value was discovered by Carnot in 1824 and is
a cornerstone concept in thermodynamics. It led to the discovery of the second law and to the
definition of the Kelvin temperature scale. Small-scale engines operate in the presence of
highly fluctuating input and output energy fluxes. They are therefore much better
characterized by fluctuating efficiencies. In this study, using the fluctuation theorem, we
identify universal features of efficiency fluctuations. While the standard thermodynamic
efficiency is, as expected, the most likely value, we find that the Carnot efficiency is,
surprisingly, the least likely in the long time limit. Furthermore, the probability distribution for
the efficiency assumes a universal scaling form when operating close-to-equilibrium. We
illustrate our results analytically and numerically on two model systems.
http://hdl.handle.net/10993/18027
10.1038/ncomms5721

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