The harmonic quantum Szilárd engine

P. C.W. Davies, Logan Thomas, George Zahariade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Szilárd engine is a mechanism (akin to Maxwell's demon) for converting information into energy, which seemingly violates the second law of thermodynamics. Originally a classical thought experiment, it was extended to a quantized treatment by Zurek. Here, we examine a new, elegant model of a quantum Szilárd engine by replacing the traditional rigid box with a harmonic potential, extending the scope of the model. Remarkably, almost all calculations are exact. This article is suitable for students, researchers, and educators interested in the conceptual links among information, entropy, and quantum measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1131
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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