Limits to catalysis in quantum thermodynamics

N.H,Y. Ng, L. Mančinska, C. Cirstoiu, J. Eisert, S. Wehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Quantum thermodynamics is a research field that aims at fleshing out the ultimate limits of thermodynamic processes in the deep quantum regime. A complete picture of thermodynamical processes naturally allows for auxiliary systems dubbed 'catalysts', i.e., any physical systems facilitating state transformations while remaining essentially intact in their state, like an auxiliary system, a clock, or an actual catalyst. In this work, we present a comprehensive analysis of the power and limitation of such thermal catalysis. Specifically, we provide a family of optimal catalysts that can be returned with minimal trace distance error after facilitating a state transformation process. To incorporate the genuine physical role of a catalyst, we identify very significant restrictions on arbitrary state transformations under dimension or mean energy bounds, using methods of convex relaxations. We discuss the implication of these findings on possible thermodynamic state transformations in the quantum regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085004
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • catalysis
  • quantum information
  • quantum thermodynamics


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