The theory of equilibrium statistical mechanics is well established, and found direct or indirect confirmation in a wide range of experiments. This is not the case for the emerging field of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. In this case, a general theory has yet to be formulated, although a number of theorems (e.g. fluctuations and work theorems) have been introduced to link different physical quantities in systems out of equilibrium.
The aim of the proposed research is to develop further, through proof-of-principle experiments with optical traps, the foundations of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, with a view of a unified description. Besides the fundamental issue of the extension of statistical mechanics to out-of-equilibrium systems, the proposed research also aims to explore possible practical implications. Specifically, we also aim to use the available knowledge, as well as the new one acquired in the context of the proposed project, to design new devices ("nanomachines"). In fact, non-equilibrium statistical mechanics allows to determine the optimal conditions for the operation of nanodevices, i.e. devices operating at such a small scale that the fluctuations become relevant.
The PhD is fully funded for three years (stipend + fees).
For information please contact:
Prof. Ferruccio Renzoni [[email protected]