Quantum engine based on many-body localization

Nicole Yunger Halpern, Christopher David White, Sarang Gopalakrishnan, Gil Refael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Many-body-localized (MBL) systems do not thermalize under their intrinsic dynamics. The athermality of MBL, we propose, can be harnessed for thermodynamic tasks. We illustrate this ability by formulating an Otto engine cycle for a quantum many-body system. The system is ramped between a strongly localized MBL regime and a thermal (or weakly localized) regime. The difference between the energy-level correlations of MBL systems and of thermal systems enables mesoscale engines to run in parallel in the thermodynamic limit, enhances the engine's reliability, and suppresses worst-case trials. We estimate analytically and calculate numerically the engine's efficiency and per-cycle power. The efficiency mirrors the efficiency of the conventional thermodynamic Otto engine. The per-cycle power scales linearly with the system size and inverse-exponentially with a localization length. This work introduces a thermodynamic lens onto MBL, which, having been studied much recently, can now be considered for use in thermodynamic tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024203
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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