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Researchers find loophole in Second Law of Thermodynamics

According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy always increases. Second Law of Thermodynamics has been around for over a century and a half of physics. It has been close to unbreakable as any law we know. In this cosmos, chaos rules. But researchers form the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory have just announced that they have found a loophole in this famous maxim.

According to their research paper published in Scientific Reports, they have found a possible opportunity to a condition where the Second Law is violated on the microscopic level. Second Law is technically backed by the H-theorem. According to H-theorem if a door is opened between two rooms, one cold and one hot, they will ultimately settle into lukewarm equilibrium; and the hot room will never end up hotter.

Even in twentieth century and the knowledge of quantum mechanics had advanced but we didn't completely comprehend the fundamental physical origins of the H-theorem.

Modern developments in a field called quantum information theory presented a mathematical structure in which entropy increases.

Valerii Vinokur, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and corresponding author lead author study, said:

What we did was formulate how these beautiful abstract mathematical theories could be connected to our crude reality,

The researchers used quantum information theory, which is grounded on abstract mathematical systems, and applied it to condensed matter physics, a well-understood field with many acknowledged laws and experiments.

Ivan Sadovskyy, an associate of Argonne's Materials Science Division and the Computation Institute and another author on the paper, said:

This allowed us to formulate the quantum H-theorem as it related to things that could be physically observed. It establishes a connection between well-documented quantum physics processes and the theoretical quantum channels that make up quantum information theory.

The research predicts definite situations under which the H-theorem might be violated and entropy—in the short term—might essentially decrease instead of increment.

In 1867, physicist James Clerk Maxwell defined a theoretical way to break the Second Law: if a minor theoretical being sat at the door between the hot and cold rooms and only let through particles traveling at a certain speed. This theoretical imp is called "Maxwell's demon."

Vinokur said:

Although the violation is only on the local scale, the implications are far-reaching. This provides us a platform for the practical realization of a quantum Maxwell's demon, which could make possible a local quantum perpetual motion machine.

For instance, he said, the principle can be designed into a "refrigerator" which could be cooled remotely—that is, the energy consumed to cool it could take place anywhere.

The authors are preparing to work thoroughly with a team of experimentalists to design a proof-of-concept system, they said.

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