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Nominated as an outstanding Ph.D. thesis by the Complutense University of Madrid
A guide to understanding time irreversibility and how it can be quantified in stationary processes
Develops techniques to estimate the dissipation rate in biological processes from single stationary trajectories
Serves as a guide to estimate the Kullback-Leibler divergence between two probability distributions (discrete or continuous)
Describes experimental measurement of the energetics of symmetry breaking
After an insightful introductory part on recent developments in the thermodynamics of small systems, the author presents his contribution to a long-standing problem, namely the connection between irreversibility and dissipation. He develops a method based on recent results on fluctuation theorems that is able to estimate dissipation using only information acquired in a single, sufficiently long, trajectory of a stationary nonequilibrium process. This part ends with a remarkable application of the method to the analysis of biological data, in this case, the fluctuations of a hair bundle. The third part studies the energetics of systems that undergo symmetry breaking transitions. These theoretical ideas lead to, among other things, an experimental realization of a Szilard engine using manipulated colloids. This work has the potential for important applications ranging from the analysis of biological media to the design of novel artificial nano-machines.
Content Level »Research
Keywords »Brownian Engines - Flashing Ratchets - Fluctuation Theorems - Irreversibility and Dissipation - Kullback-Leibler Divergence - Optical Tweezers - Stochastic Thermodynamics - Thermodynamics in Microscopic Systems