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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/17876

Title: The unlikely Carnot efficiency
Authors: Verley, Gatien
Esposito, Massimiliano
WILLAERT, Tim
VAN DEN BROECK, Christian
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Citation: NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 5
Abstract: 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.
Notes: [Verley, Gatien; Esposito, Massimiliano] Univ Luxembourg, L-1511 Luxembourg, Luxembourg. [Willaert, Tim; Van den Broeck, Christian] Hasselt Univ, B-3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/17876
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5721
ISI #: 000342840100001
ISSN: 2041-1723
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Validation: ecoom, 2015
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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