Thermal Contact: Mischief and Time Scales

Research paper by Daniel Grimmer, Robert B. Mann, Eduardo Martin-Martinez

Indexed on: 28 May '18Published on: 28 May '18Published in: arXiv - Quantum Physics


We discuss what kind of quantum channels can enable thermalization processes. We show that in order to determine a system's temperature, a thermometer needs to dynamically gain information about the system's local Hamiltonian and not just its state. We illustrate this showing that any temperature measurement protocol that does not resolve the system's local Hamiltonian (such as, e.g., full state tomography) is susceptible to being fooled into measuring any value for the temperature. We will establish necessary conditions for thermal contact for quantum systems. Furthermore, we will show that the intuitive idea of thermalization emerging out of quickly interacting with the microconstitutents of a thermal reservoir cannot be correct.