Clock-driven quantum thermal engines

Artur S L Malabarba, Anthony J. Short, Philipp Kammerlander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)


We consider an isolated autonomous quantum machine, where an explicit quantum clock is responsible for performing all transformations on an arbitrary quantum system (the engine), via a time-independent Hamiltonian. In a general context, we show that this model can exactly implement any energy-conserving unitary on the engine, without degrading the clock. Furthermore, we show that when the engine includes a quantum work storage device we can approximately perform completely general unitaries on the remainder of the engine. This framework can be used in quantum thermodynamics to carry out arbitrary transformations of a system, with accuracy and extracted work as close to optimal as desired, while obeying the first and second laws of thermodynamics. We thus show that autonomous thermal machines suffer no intrinsic thermodynamic cost compared to externally controlled ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045027
Number of pages11
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2015


  • Quantum clocks
  • Quantum information theory
  • Quantum thermodynamics


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