Quantum Thermodynamics: Emergence of Thermodynamic Behavior within Composite Quantum Systems

Series: Lecture Notes in Physics (v.657)
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This extended tutorial essay views thermodynamics as an incomplete description of quantum systems with many degrees of freedom. The main goal is to show that the approach to equilibrium - with equilibrium characterized by maximum ignorance about the open system of interest - neither requires that many particles nor is it a precise way of partitioning relevant for the salient features of equilibrium and equilibration. Moreover, it is indeed quantum effects that are at work in bringing about universal thermodynamic behaviour of modestly sized open systems. Von Neumann's concept of entropy thus proves to be much more widely useful than something to be feared, and far beyond truly macroscopic systems in equilibrium.