THE QUEST FOR THE ABSOLUTE ZERO TEMPERATURE

00:00 01-05-2007

The unavoidable irreversible loss of power in a heat engine is found to be of quantum origin. Following thermodynamic tradition a model quantum heat engine operating in an Otto cycle is analysed. When the engine deviates from adiabatic conditions the performance is subject to friction. The origin of this friction can be traced to the noncommutability of the kinetic and potential energy of the working medium. The scaling of the cooling power of a reciprocating quantum refrigerator is sought as a func- tion of the cold bath temperature. When the working medium Hamil- tonian contains an uncontrolled internal coupling, the cooling power vanishes exponentially. If the internal energy gap can be made to follow the cold bath temperature the cooling power vanishes at least as T_c^3.

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