After an insightful introductory part on recent developments in the thermodynamics of small systems, the author presents his contribution to a long-standing problem, namely the connection between irreversibility and dissipation. He develops a method based on recent results on fluctuation theorems that is able to estimate dissipation using only information acquired in a single, sufficiently long, trajectory of a stationary nonequilibrium process. This part ends with a remarkable application of the method to the analysis of biological data, in this case, the fluctuations of a hair bundle.
The third part studies the energetics of systems that undergo symmetry breaking transitions. These theoretical ideas lead to, among other things, an experimental realization of a Szilard engine using manipulated colloids.
This work has the potential for important applications ranging from the analysis of biological media to the design of novel artificial nano-machines.
Table of ContentsPart I Introduction.- Introduction.- Small-Scale Thermodynamics.- Part II Irreversibility and Dissipation.- Dissipation and Kullback-Leibler Divergence.- Estimating the Kullback-Leibler Divergence.- A Case Study: The Flashing Ratchet.- Application To Biology: The Ear Hair Bundle.- Part III Experimental Tests and Applications of Stochastic Thermodynamics.- Energetics of Symmetry Breaking.- Effective Heating With Random Forces.- Part IV Conclusions.- Conclusions and Outlook.- Appedices.