Professor Polkovnikov Published in Nature Physics

June 05, 2008

In thermodynamics, it is generally believed that a system will behave adiabatically – that is, no heat will be produced – if the parameters of the system are changed sufficiently slowly. This is often justified using the adiabatic theorem of quantum mechanics, which states that the transitions between different energy levels in a quantum system are suppressed if the system changes sufficiently slowly. Though these two ideas have long been connected, their exact relationship has remained elusive.

In a recent paper published in Nature Physics, Professor Anatoli Polkovnikov and his colleague have elucidated this relationship. They have identified three response regimes for slowly changing thermodynamic systems, and as a result, have shown that adiabaticity can break down for low-dimensional, gapless systems.

Click here to read the full paper in Nature Physics.