Verification of the quantum nonequilibrium work relation in the presence of decoherence

Andrew Smith, Yao Lu, Shuoming An, Xiang Zhang, Jing Ning Zhang, Zongping Gong, H. T. Quan, Christopher Jarzynski, Kihwan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although nonequilibrium work and fluctuation relations have been studied in detail within classical statistical physics, extending these results to open quantum systems has proven to be conceptually difficult. For systems that undergo decoherence but not dissipation, we argue that it is natural to define quantum work exactly as for isolated quantum systems, using the two-point measurement protocol. Complementing previous theoretical analysis using quantum channels, we show that the nonequilibrium work relation remains valid in this situation, and we test this assertion experimentally using a system engineered from a trapped ion, adding external noise to produce the effects of decoherence. Our experimental results reveal the work relation's validity over a variety of driving speeds, decoherence rates, and effective temperatures and represent the first confirmation of the work relation for evolution described by a non-unitary master equation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013008
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • decoherence
  • ion trap
  • master equation
  • nonequilibrium work
  • quantum Jarzynski equality
  • quantum information
  • shortcuts to adiabaticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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