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How small can Maxwell's demon be? -- Lessons from autonomous electronic feedback models

Schaller, G.

Abstract

External piecewise-constant feedback control can modify energetic and entropic balances, allowing in extreme scenarios for Maxwell demon operational modes. Without specifying the actual implementation of external feedback loops, one can only partially quantify the additional contributions to entropy production. This is different in autonomously operating systems with internal feedback. Traditional (bipartite) autonomous systems can be divided into controller and a controlled subsystem, but also non-bipartite systems can accomplish the same task. We consider examples of autonomous three-terminal models that transfer heat mainly from a cold to a hot reservoir by dumping a small fraction of it to an ultra-cold (demon) reservoir, such that their coarse-grained dynamics resembles an external feedback loop. We find that the minimal three-level implementation is most efficient in utilizing heat dissipation to change the entropy balance of the effective controlled system.

Keywords: Maxwell demon; autonomous operation; refrigerator; coarse-graining

Permalink: https://www.hzdr.de/publications/Publ-37729