Auxiliary quantum systems which can be borrowed to help facilitate thermodynamic processes but must be returned almost undisturbed - i.e. catalysts - are very powerful objects in quantum thermodynamics. In fact, they appear almost too powerful, since they allow for any state transformation to be carried out while being disturbed by an arbitrarily small amount. In their recent paper Ng et al (2015 New J. Phys. 17 085004) show how to tame catalysts in quantum thermodynamics by placing additional physical constraints on them, in terms of dimension and energy.
- quantum thermodynamics
- resource theories