Trinity researchers, along with colleagues from the University of Bristol and Queen’s University Belfast, have been awarded nearly €1.8 million to explore quantum thermodynamics.
The group, QuamNESS consortium, received the grant jointly awarded by the UK’s Energy and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).
Thermodynamics studies energy exchanges between bodies at different temperatures, assesses the probability of certain chemical reactions and explains waste production from even the most energy-efficient engines.
However, when these processes involve systems at the nanoscale, such as electrons, atoms or simple molecules, the laws of physics from our everyday world no longer apply and researchers must switch to quantum mechanics in order to investigate the systems at play. Thermodynamics is then combined with the quantum framework.
The QuamNESS consortium, with the help of this EPSRC-SFI grant, will investigate these new avenues of research potential. This technology on a nanoscale has the potential to develop minuscule devices that use counter-intuitive laws of quantum mechanics to outperform their current counterparts with highly efficient power generation, heat flow management and recovery of wasted energy.
The consortium aims to unravel the means to engineering new technologies that benefit from quantum-enhanced thermal management.
Dr John Goold, assistant professor in Trinity’s School of Physics and founder of the thermodynamics and energetics of quantum systems group (QuSys) at Trinity, said today in a press statement: “Technology is being miniaturised at an unprecedented rate and we can no longer ignore the counterintuitive effects of quantum mechanics.”
“This leads to both deep and pragmatic scientific questions that this research will aim to address and I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with both Professor Paternostro (QUB) and Dr Stephen Clark (UOB) since they are two of my most longstanding collaborators.”
“More importantly this research award represents an important and natural reinforcement of both Irish-UK and North-South research collaborations in the post Brexit environment”, he added.