Volume 127, Number 1, July 2019
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||31 July 2019|
Non-equilibrium dynamics of the piston in the Szilard engine
1 Santa Fe Institute - 1399 Hyde Park Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
2 International Centre for Theoretical Sciences - Bengaluru 560089, India
3 Raman Research Institute - Bengaluru 560080, India
Received: 11 March 2019
Accepted: 29 June 2019
We consider a Szilard engine in one dimension, consisting of a single particle of mass m, moving between a piston of mass M and a heat reservoir at temperature T. In addition to an external force, the piston experiences repeated elastic collisions with the particle. We find that the motion of a heavy piston , can be described effectively by a Langevin equation. Various numerical evidences suggest that the frictional coefficient in the Langevin equation is given by , where X is the position of the piston measured from the thermal wall. Starting from the exact master equation for the full system and using a perturbation expansion in , we integrate out the degrees of freedom of the particle to obtain the effective Fokker-Planck equation for the piston, albeit with a different frictional coefficient. Our microscopic study shows that the piston is never in equilibrium during the expansion step, contrary to the assumption made in the usual Szilard engine analysis —nevertheless the conclusions of Szilard remain valid.
PACS: 05.70.Ln – Nonequilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics / 05.20.-y – Classical statistical mechanics / 05.40.-a – Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brownian motion
© EPLA, 2019
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