Maximum-entropy ensembles are key primitives in statistical mechanics from which thermodynamic properties can be derived. Over the decades, several approaches have been put forward in order to justify from minimal assumptions the use of these ensembles in statistical descriptions. However, there is still no full consensus on the precise reasoning justifying the use of such ensembles. In this work, we provide a new approach to derive maximum-entropy ensembles taking a strictly operational perspective. We investigate the set of possible transitions that a system can undergo together with an environment, when one only has partial information about both the system and its environment. The set of all these allowed transitions encodes thermodynamic laws and limitations on thermodynamic tasks as particular cases. Our main result is that the set of allowed transitions coincides with the one possible if both system and environment were assigned the maximum entropy state compatible with the partial information. This justifies the overwhelming success of such ensembles and provides a derivation without relying on considerations of typicality or information-theoretic measures.
Quantum systems strongly coupled to many-body systems equilibrate to the reduced state of a global thermal state, deviating from the local thermal state of the system as it occurs in the weak-coupling limit. Taking this insight as a starting point, we study the thermodynamics of systems strongly coupled to thermal baths. First, we provide strong-coupling corrections to the second law applicable to general systems in three of its different readings: As a statement of maximal extractable work, on heat dissipation, and bound to the Carnot efficiency. These corrections become relevant for small quantum systems and always vanish in first order in the interaction strength. We then move to the question of power of heat engines, obtaining a bound on the power enhancement due to strong coupling. Our results are exemplified on the paradigmatic situation of non-Markovian quantum Brownian motion.
Building upon work by Matsumoto, we show that the quantum relative entropy with full-rank second argument is determined by four simple axioms: i) Continuity in the first argument, ii) the validity of the data-processing inequality, iii) additivity under tensor products, and iv) super-additivity. This observation has immediate implications for quantum thermodynamics, which we discuss. Specifically, we demonstrate that, under reasonable restrictions, the free energy is singled out as a measure of athermality. In particular, we consider an extended class of Gibbs-preserving maps as free operations in a resource-theoretic framework, in which a catalyst is allowed to build up correlations with the system at hand. The free energy is the only extensive and continuous function that is monotonic under such free operations.
The third law in the form of the unattainability principle states that exact ground-state cooling requires infinite resources. Here we investigate the amount of non-equilibrium resources needed for approximate cooling. We consider as resource any system out of equilibrium, allowing for resources beyond the i.i.d. assumption and including the input of work as a particular case. We establish sufficient conditions for cooling in full generality and show that for a vast class of non-equilibrium resources sufficient and necessary conditions for low-temperature cooling can be expressed in terms of a single function. This function plays a similar role for the third law to the one of the free energy for the second law. From a technical point of view we provide new results about concavity/convexity of certain Renyi-divergences, which might be of independent interest.
We investigate the limitations that emerge in thermodynamic tasks as a result of having local control only over the components of a thermal machine. These limitations are particularly relevant for devices composed of interacting many-body systems. Specifically, we study protocols of work extraction that employ a many-body system as a working medium whose evolution can be driven by tuning the on-site Hamiltonian terms. This provides a restricted set of thermodynamic operations, giving rise to novel bounds for the performance of engines. Our findings show that those limitations in control render it in general impossible to reach Carnot efficiency; in its extreme ramification it can even forbid to reach a finite efficiency of work per particle. We focus on the 1D Ising model in the thermodynamic limit as a case study. We show that in the limit of strong interactions the ferromagnetic case becomes useless for work extraction, while the anti-ferromagnetic improves its performance with the strength of the couplings, reaching Carnot in the limit of arbitrary strong interactions. Our results provide a promising connection between the study of quantum control and thermodynamics and introduce a more realistic set of physical operations well suited to capture current experimental scenarios.
Bell nonlocality can be formulated in terms of a resource theory with local-hidden variable models as resourceless objects. Two such theories are known, one built upon local operations assisted by shared randomness (LOSRs) and the other one allowing, in addition, for prior-to-input classical communication. We show that prior communication, although unable to create nonlocality, leads to wirings not only beyond LOSRs but also not contained in a much broader class of (nonlocality-generating) global wirings. Technically, this is shown by proving that it can improve the statistical distinguishability between Bell correlations optimised over all fixed measurement choices. This has implications in nonlocality quantification, and leads us to a natural universal definition of Bell nonlocality measures. To end up with, we also consider the statistical strength of nonlocality proofs. We point out some issues of its standard definition in the resource-theoretic operational framework, and suggest simple fixes for them. Our findings reveal non-trivial features of the geometry of the set of wirings and may have implications in the operational distinguishability of nonlocal behaviors.
Quantum steering is observed when performing appropriate local measurements on an entangled state. Here we discuss the possibility of simulating classically this effect, using classical communication instead of entanglement. We show that infinite communication is necessary for exactly simulating steering for any pure entangled state, as well as for a class of mixed entangled states. Moreover, we discuss the communication cost of steering for general entangled states, as well as approximate simulation. Our findings reveal striking differences between Bell nonlocality and steering, and provide a natural way of measuring the strength of the latter.
Recent years have seen an enormously revived interest in the study of thermodynamic notions in the quantum regime. This applies both to the study of notions of work extraction in thermal machines in the quantum regime, as well as to questions of equilibration and thermalisation of interacting quantum many-body systems as such. In this work we bring together these two lines of research by studying work extraction in a closed system that undergoes a sequence of quenches and equilibration steps concomitant with free evolutions. In this way, we incorporate an important insight from the study of the dynamics of quantum many body systems: the evolution of closed systems is expected to be well described, for relevant observables and most times, by a suitable equilibrium state. We will consider three kinds of equilibration, namely to (i) the time averaged state, (ii) the Gibbs ensemble and (iii) the generalised Gibbs ensemble (GGE), reflecting further constants of motion in integrable models. For each effective description, we investigate notions of entropy production, the validity of the minimal work principle and properties of optimal work extraction protocols. While we keep the discussion general, much room is dedicated to the discussion of paradigmatic non-interacting fermionic quantum many-body systems, for which we identify significant differences with respect to the role of the minimal work principle. Our work not only has implications for experiments with cold atoms, but also can be viewed as suggesting a mindset for quantum thermodynamics where the role of the external heat baths is instead played by the system itself, with its internal degrees of freedom bringing coarse-grained observables to equilibrium.
In recent years we have witnessed a concentrated effort to make sense of thermodynamics for small-scale systems. One of the main difficulties is to capture a suitable notion of work that models realistically the purpose of quantum machines, in an analogous way to the role played, for macroscopic machines, by the energy stored in the idealisation of a lifted weight. Despite of several attempts to resolve this issue by putting forward specific models, these are far from capturing realistically the transitions that a quantum machine is expected to perform. In this work, we adopt a novel strategy by considering arbitrary kinds of systems that one can attach to a quantum thermal machine and seeking for work quantifiers. These are functions that measure the value of a transition and generalise the concept of work beyond the model of a lifted weight. We do so by imposing simple operational axioms that any reasonable work quantifier must fulfil and by deriving from them stringent mathematical condition with a clear physical interpretation. Our approach allows us to derive much of the structure of the theory of thermodynamics without taking as a primitive the definition of work. We can derive, for any work quantifier, a quantitative second law in the sense of bounding the work that can be performed using some non-equilibrium resource by the work that is needed to create it. We also discuss in detail the role of reversibility and correlations in connection with the second law. Furthermore, we recover the usual identification of work with energy in degrees of freedom with vanishing entropy as a particular case of our formalism. Our mathematical results can be formulated abstractly and are general enough to carry over to other resource theories than quantum thermodynamics.
The second law of thermodynamics, formulated as an ultimate bound on the maximum extractable work, has been rigorously derived in multiple scenarios. However, the unavoidable limitations that emerge due to the lack of control on small systems are often disregarded when deriving such bounds, which is specifically important in the context of quantum thermodynamics. Here, we study the maximum extractable work with limited control over the working system and its interaction with the heat bath. We derive a general second law when the set of accessible Hamiltonians of the working-system is arbitrarily restricted. We then apply our bound to particular scenarios that are important in realistic implementations: limitations on the maximum energy gap and local control over many-body systems. We hence demonstrate in what precise way the lack of control affects the second law. In particular, contrary to the unrestricted case, we show that the optimal work extraction is not achieved by simple thermal contacts. Our results do not only generalize the second law to scenarios of practical relevance, but also take first steps in the direction of local thermodynamics.
We present an operational framework for Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen steering as a physical resource. To begin with, we characterize the set of steering non-increasing operations (SNIOs) --i.e., those that do not create steering-- on arbitrary-dimensional bipartite systems composed of a quantum subsystem and a black-box device. Next, we introduce the notion of convex steering monotones as the fundamental axiomatic quantifiers of steering. As a convenient example thereof, we present the relative entropy of steering. In addition, we prove that two previously proposed quantifiers, the steerable weight and the robustness of steering, are also convex steering monotones. To end up with, for minimal-dimensional systems, we establish, on the one hand, necessary and sufficient conditions for pure-state steering conversions under stochastic SNIOs and prove, on the other hand, the non-existence of steering bits, i.e., measure-independent maximally steerable states from which all states can be obtained by means of the free operations. Our findings reveal unexpected aspects of steering and lay foundations for further resource-theory approaches, with potential implications in Bell non-locality.
How much work can be extracted from a heat bath using a thermal machine? The study of this question has a very long tradition in statistical physics in the weak-coupling limit, applied to macroscopic systems. However, the assumption that thermal heat baths remain uncorrelated with physical systems at hand is less reasonable on the nano-scale and in the quantum setting. In this work, we establish a framework of work extraction in the presence of quantum correlations. We show in a mathematically rigorous and quantitative fashion that quantum correlations and entanglement emerge as a limitation to work extraction compared to what would be allowed by the second law of thermodynamics. At the heart of the approach are operations that capture naturally non-equilibrium dynamics encountered when putting physical systems into contact with each other. We discuss various limits that relate to known results and put our work into context of approaches to finite-time quantum thermodynamics.
As first shown by Popescu [S. Popescu, Phys. Rev. Lett. 74, 2619 (1995)], some quantum states only reveal their nonlocality when subjected to a sequence of measurements while giving rise to local correlations in standard Bell tests. Motivated by this manifestation of "hidden nonlocality" we set out to develop a general framework for the study of nonlocality when sequences of measurements are performed. Similar to [R. Gallego et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 070401 (2013)] our approach is operational, i.e. the task is to identify the set of allowed operations in sequential correlation scenarios and define nonlocality as the resource that cannot be created by these operations. This leads to a characterisation of sequential nonlocality that contains as particular cases standard nonlocality and hidden nonlocality.
We demonstrate that amplification of arbitrarily weak randomness is possible using quantum resources. We present a randomness amplification protocol that involves Bell experiments. We find a Bell inequality which can amplify arbitrarily weak randomness and give a detailed analysis of the protocol involving it. Our analysis includes finding a sufficient violation of Bell inequality as a function of the initial quality of randomness. It has a very important property that for any quality the required violation is strictly lower than possible to obtain using quantum resources. Among other things, it means that the protocol takes a finite amount of time to amplify arbitrarily weak randomness.
Do completely unpredictable events exist in nature? Classical theory, being fully deterministic, completely excludes fundamental randomness. On the contrary, quantum theory allows for randomness within its axiomatic structure. Yet, the fact that a theory makes prediction only in probabilistic terms does not imply the existence of any form of randomness in nature. The question then remains whether one can certify randomness independent of the physical framework used. While standard Bell tests approach this question from this perspective, they require prior perfect randomness, which renders the approach circular. Recently, it has been shown that it is possible to certify full randomness using almost perfect random bits. Here, we prove that full randomness can indeed be certified using quantum non-locality under the minimal possible assumptions: the existence of a source of arbitrarily weak (but non-zero) randomness and the impossibility of instantaneous signalling. Thus we are left with a strict dichotomic choice: either our world is fully deterministic or there exist in nature events that are fully random. Apart from the foundational implications, our results represent a quantum protocol for full randomness amplification, an information task known to be impossible classically. Finally, they open a new path for device-independent protocols under minimal assumptions.
Semi-device-independent quantum protocols realize information tasks - e.g. secure key distribution, random access coding, and randomness generation - in a scenario where no assumption on the internal working of the devices used in the protocol is made, except their dimension. These protocols offer two main advantages: first, their implementation is often less demanding than fully-device-independent protocols. Second, they are more secure than their device-dependent counterparts. Their classical analogous is represented by random access codes, which provide a general framework for describing one-sided classical communication tasks. We discuss conditions under which detection inefficiencies can be exploited by a malicious provider to fake the performance of semi-device-independent quantum and classical protocols - and how to prevent it.
Device independent dimension witnesses provide a lower bound on the dimensionality of classical and quantum systems in a "black box" scenario where only correlations between preparations, measurements and outcomes are considered. We address the problem of the robustness of dimension witnesses, namely that to witness the dimension of a system or to discriminate between its quantum or classical nature, even in the presence of loss. We consider the case when shared randomness is allowed between preparations and measurements and we provide a threshold in the detection efficiency such that dimension witnessing can still be performed.
Due to the importance of entanglement for quantum information purposes, a framework has been developed for its characterization and quantification as a resource based on the following operational principle: entanglement among $N$ parties cannot be created by local operations and classical communication, even when $N-1$ parties collaborate. More recently, nonlocality has been identified as another resource, alternative to entanglement and necessary for device-independent quantum information protocols. We introduce an operational framework for nonlocality based on a similar principle: nonlocality among $N$ parties cannot be created by local operations and allowed classical communication even when $N-1$ parties collaborate. We then show that the standard definition of multipartite nonlocality, due to Svetlichny, is inconsistent with this operational approach: according to it, genuine tripartite nonlocality could be created by two collaborating parties. We finally discuss alternative definitions for which consistency is recovered.
An overwhelming majority of experiments in classical and quantum physics make a priori assumptions about the dimension of the system under consideration. However, would it be possible to assess the dimension of a completely unknown system only from the results of measurements performed on it, without any extra assumption? The concept of a dimension witness answers this question, as it allows one to bound the dimension of an unknown classical or quantum system in a device-independent manner, that is, only from the statistics of measurements performed on it. Here, we report on the experimental demonstration of dimension witnesses in a prepare and measure scenario. We use pairs of photons entangled in both polarization and orbital angular momentum to generate ensembles of classical and quantum states of dimensions up to 4. We then use a dimension witness to certify their dimensionality as well as their quantum nature. Our results open new avenues for the device-independent estimation of unknown quantum systems and for applications in quantum information science.
Local measurements on bipartite maximally entangled states can yield correlations that are maximally nonlocal, monogamous, and associated to fully random outcomes. This makes these states ideal for bipartite cryptographic tasks. Genuine-multipartite nonlocality constitutes a stronger notion of nonlocality that appears in the multipartite case. Maximal genuine-multipartite nonlocality, monogamy and full random outcomes are thus highly desired properties for multipartite correlations in intrinsically genuine-multipartite cryptographic scenarios. We prove that local measurements on Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger states, for all local dimension and number of parts, can produce correlations that are fully genuine-multipartite nonlocal, monogamous and with fully random outcomes. A key ingredient in our proof is a multipartite chained Bell inequality detecting genuine-multipartite nonlocality, which we introduce. Finally, we discuss the applications of our results for intrinsically genuine-multipartite cryptographic protocols such as device-independent secret sharing.
Identifying which correlations among distant observers are possible within our current description of Nature, based on quantum mechanics, is a fundamental problem in Physics. Recently, information concepts have been proposed as the key ingredient to characterize the set of quantum correlations. Novel information principles, such as, information causality or non-trivial communication complexity, have been introduced in this context and successfully applied to some concrete scenarios. We show in this work a fundamental limitation of this approach: no principle based on bipartite information concepts is able to single out the set of quantum correlations for an arbitrary number of parties. Our results reflect the intricate structure of quantum correlations and imply that new and intrinsically multipartite information concepts are needed for their full understanding.
Quantum mechanics is a nonlocal theory, but not as nonlocal as the no-signalling principle allows. However, there exist quantum correlations that exhibit maximal nonlocality: they are as nonlocal as any non-signalling correlations and thus have a local content, quantified by the fraction $p_L$ of events admitting a local description, equal to zero. Exploiting the link between the Kochen-Specker and Bell's theorems, we derive, from every Kochen-Specker proof, Bell inequalities maximally violated by quantum correlations. We then show that these Bell inequalities lead to experimental bounds on the local content of quantum correlations which are significantly better than those based on other constructions. We perform the experimental demonstration of a Bell test originating from the Peres-Mermin Kochen-Specker proof, providing an upper bound on the local content $p_L\lesssim 0.22$.
We address the problem of testing the dimensionality of classical and quantum systems in a `black-box' scenario. We develop a general formalism for tackling this problem. This allows us to derive lower bounds on the classical dimension necessary to reproduce given measurement data. Furthermore, we generalise the concept of quantum dimension witnesses to arbitrary quantum systems, allowing one to place a lower bound on the Hilbert space dimension necessary to reproduce certain data. Illustrating these ideas, we provide simple examples of classical and quantum dimension witnesses.