Schematic of many-body-localized (MBL) engine. Figure 1 from the paper.

Authors Nicole Yunger Halpern, Christopher White, IQIM/Burke Institute alum Sarang Gopalakrishnan and Gil Refael released a new paper in which they designed an engine formed from a many-body localized system. The project combines quantum many-body physics with quantum thermodynamic, and features two branches of IQIM. Yunger Halpern from Quantum Information Theory and White, Gopalkrishnan and Refael from Condensed Matter Theory.


“Many-body-localized (MBL) systems do not thermalize under their intrinsic dynamics. The athermality of MBL, we propose, can be harnessed for thermodynamic tasks. We illustrate by formulating an Otto engine cycle for a quantum many-body system. The system is ramped between a strongly localized MBL regime and a thermal (or weakly localized) regime. MBL systems’ energy-level correlations differ from thermal systems’. This discrepancy enhances the engine’s reliability, suppresses worst-case trials, and enables mesoscale engines to run in parallel in the thermodynamic limit. We estimate analytically and calculate numerically the engine’s efficiency and per-cycle power. The efficiency mirrors the efficiency of the conventional thermodynamic Otto engine. The per-cycle power scales linearly with the system size and inverse-exponentially with a localization length. This work introduces a thermodynamic lens onto MBL, which, having been studied much recently, can now be applied in thermodynamic tasks.” Read the full paper at

Read more about MBL in Nicole Yunger Halpern’s Quantum Frontier Posts: March Madness and Quantum Memory  and Hamiltonian: An American Musical (without Americana or music)