Irreversible Entropy Production: From Classical to Quantum


Entropy production is a key quantity in any finite-time thermodynamic process. It is intimately tied with the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, embodying a tool to extend thermodynamic considerations all the way to non-equilibrium processes. It is also often used in attempts to provide the quantitative characterization of logical and thermodynamic irreversibility, stemming from processes in physics, chemistry and biology. Notwithstanding its fundamental character, a unifying theory of entropy production valid for general processes, both classical and quantum, has not yet been formulated. Developments pivoting around the frameworks of stochastic thermodynamics, open quantum systems, and quantum information theory have led to substantial progress in such endeavour. This has culminated in the unlocking of a new generation of experiments able to address stochastic thermodynamic processes and the impact of entropy production on them. This paper aims to provide a compendium on the current framework for the description, assessment and manipulation of entropy production. We present both formal aspects of its formulation and the implications stemming from the potential quantum nature of a given process, including a detailed survey of recent experiments.

Reviews of Modern Physics
Mauro Paternostro
Mauro Paternostro
Full Professor