Power, efficiency and fluctuations in a quantum point contact as steady-state thermoelectric heat engine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The trade-off between large power output, high efficiency and small fluctuations in the operation of heat engines has recently received interest in the context of thermodynamic uncertainty relations (TURs). Here we provide a concrete illustration of this trade-off by theoretically investigating the operation of a quantum point contact (QPC) with an energy-dependent transmission function as a steady-state thermoelectric heat engine. As a starting point, we review and extend previous analysis of the power production and efficiency. Thereafter the power fluctuations and the bound jointly imposed on the power, efficiency, and fluctuations by the TURs are analyzed as additional performance quantifiers. We allow for arbitrary smoothness of the transmission probability of the QPC, which exhibits a close to step-like dependence in energy, and consider both the linear and the non-linear regime of operation. It is found that for a broad range of parameters, the power production reaches nearly its theoretical maximum value, with efficiencies more than half of the Carnot efficiency and at the same time with rather small fluctuations. Moreover, we show that by demanding a non-zero power production, in the linear regime a stronger TUR can be formulated in terms of the thermoelectric figure of merit. Interestingly, this bound holds also in a wide parameter regime beyond linear response for our QPC device.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Chalmers University of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Condensed Matter Physics

Keywords

  • Fluctuations, Heat engines, Mesoscopic physics, Quantum transport, Thermodynamic uncertainty relations, Thermoelectricity
Original languageEnglish
Article number777
JournalEntropy
Volume21
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 8
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes