Relative thermalization

Lidia del Rio, Adrian Hutter, Renato Renner, Stephanie Wehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Locally thermal quantum systems may contradict traditional thermodynamics: heat can flow from a cold body to a hotter one, if the two are highly entangled. We show that to recover thermodynamic laws, we must use a stronger notion of thermalization: a system S is thermal relative to a reference R if S is both locally thermal and uncorrelated with R. Considering a general quantum reference is particularly relevant for a thermodynamic treatment of nanoscale quantum systems. We derive a technical condition for relative thermalization in terms of conditional entropies. Established results on local thermalization, which implicitly assume a classical reference, follow as special cases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number022104
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Review E (Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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