Research Fellows Dr Lewis Williamson, Dr Charles Woffinden and Dr Carolyn Wood are based at The University of Queensland. This year, they organised and ran a local conference on quantum thermodynamics, which attracted domestic and international attendees.
Quantum thermodynamics is a rapidly developing research field that seeks to describe concepts such as heat, temperature and disorder from a quantum mechanical perspective. The field overlaps with a vast range of Australia’s quantum research focuses, both fundamental and applied. Quantum information, quantum biology, quantum engines and fundamental questions regarding thermalisation all find relevance in the field of quantum thermodynamics. Despite this, there is limited cohesion among Australian researchers working in this field.
Earlier this month, researchers from around Australia, the Asia-Pacific region, and further afield were hosted by The University of Queensland, in partnership with EQUS, for the first Australian-led conference on quantum thermodynamics—Quantum Thermodynamics Down Under (QTDU)—to provide a focus for this community.
Presentation topics ranged from experimental realisations of quantum engines to fundamental questions regarding the interplay between relativity and thermodynamics. The broad range of expertise and perspectives led to lively discussions and cross-pollination of ideas. The conference was deliberately small (approximately 40 people), creating a more intimate and relaxed setting. It was fantastic to get to know not only Australia’s broad thermodynamic research, but also the researchers themselves.
Left, Raymond Harrison giving his talk (credit, Maarten Christenhusz); right, Lewis Williamson leading a Q&A session with Nicole Yunger-Halpern about her book Quantum Steampunk (credit, Carolyn Wood).
We were very privileged to host visitors from international institutions in the UK, Germany, France, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, USA and New Zealand. We also provided online access for researchers from Brazil and Pakistan. Invited speakers included Janet Anders (Universities of Exeter and Potsdam) discussing open-system dynamics of interacting spins, Thomas Busch (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology) reporting on a spin-statistics-driven quantum engine, and Michael Jack (University of Otago) introducing how stochastic techniques can model biological processes. It was also a great pleasure to engage in a discussion with Nicole Yunger Halpern about her popular science book Quantum Steampunk.
We sincerely thank those EQUS members who supported our inaugural event. We look forward to seeing you at QTDU2024!