Work distribution in a photonic system


We present a proposal of a setup to measure the work distribution of a process acting on a quantum system emulated by the transverse degrees of freedom of classical light. Hermite-Gaussian optical modes are used to represent the energy eigenstates of a quantum harmonic oscillator prepared in a thermal state. The Fourier transform of the work distribution, or the characteristic function, can be obtained by measuring the light intensity at the output of a properly designed interferometer. The usefulness of the approach is illustrated by calculating the work distribution for a unitary operation that displaces the linear momentum of the oscillator. Other types of processes and quantum systems can be implemented with the same scheme. We also show that the setup can be used to investigate the energy distribution for open dynamics described by completely positive maps. We discuss the feasibility of the experiment, which can be realized with simple linear optical components.




TALARICO, M. A. A. et al. Work distribution in a photonic system. Physical Review A, College Park, v. 94, e042305, 2016. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.94.042305. Disponível em: Acesso em 24 fev. 2025.