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How Small Can Thermal Machines Be? The Smallest Possible Refrigerator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number130401
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number13
DatePublished - 21 Sep 2010


We investigate the fundamental dimensional limits to thermodynamic machines. In particular, we show that it is possible to construct self-contained refrigerators (i.e., not requiring external sources of work) consisting of only a small number of qubits and/or qutrits. We present three different models, consisting of two qubits, a qubit and a qutrit with nearest-neighbor interactions, and a single qutrit, respectively. We then investigate the fundamental limits to their performance; in particular, we show that it is possible to cool towards absolute zero.

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Publisher: The American Physical Society

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