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
Source: 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.
Document URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/17876
ISSN: 2041-1723
e-ISSN: 2041-1723
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5721
ISI #: 000342840100001
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Validations: ecoom 2015
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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