Volume 100, Number 2, October 2012
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||01 November 2012|
Dynamics of an elementary quantum system in environments out of thermal equilibrium
1 Université Montpellier 2, Laboratoire Charles Coulomb UMR 5221 - F-34095, Montpellier, France, EU
2 CNRS, Laboratoire Charles Coulomb UMR 5221 - F-34095, Montpellier, France, EU
3 Laboratoire Charles Fabry, Institut d'Optique, CNRS, Université Paris-Sud, Campus Polytechnique, RD 128 F-91127 Palaiseau cedex, France, EU
Received: 30 August 2012
Accepted: 28 September 2012
We study the internal dynamics of an elementary quantum system placed close to a body held at a temperature different from that of the surrounding radiation. We derive general expressions for lifetime and density matrix valid for bodies of arbitrary geometry and dielectric permittivity. Out of equilibrium, the thermalization process and steady states become both qualitatively and quantitatively significantly different from the case of radiation at thermal equilibrium. For the case of a three-level atom close to a slab of finite thickness, we predict the occurrence of population inversion and an efficient cooling mechanism for the quantum system, whose effective internal temperature can be driven to values much lower than both involved temperatures. Our results show that non-equilibrium configurations provide new promising ways to control the state of an atomic system.
PACS: 03.65.Yz – Decoherence; open systems; quantum statistical methods / 05.70.Ln – Nonequilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics / 32.70.Cs – Oscillator strengths, lifetimes, transition moments
© EPLA, 2012
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