Observing a quantum Maxwell demon at work [Physics]
In apparent contradiction to the laws of thermodynamics, Maxwell’s demon is able to cyclically extract work from a system in contact with a thermal bath, exploiting the information about its microstate. The resolution of this paradox required the insight that an intimate relationship exists between information and thermodynamics. Here, we realize a Maxwell demon experiment that tracks the state of each constituent in both the classical and quantum regimes. The demon is a microwave cavity that encodes quantum information about a superconducting qubit and converts information into work by powering up a propagating microwave pulse by stimulated emission. Thanks to the high level of control of superconducting circuits, we directly measure the extracted work and quantify the entropy remaining in the demon’s memory. This experiment provides an enlightening illustration of the interplay of thermodynamics with quantum information.
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