Computational Issues of Quantum Heat Engines with Non-Harmonic Working Medium

Andrea R. Insinga*, Bjarne Andresen, Peter Salamon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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In this work, we lay the foundations for computing the behavior of a quantum heat engine whose working medium consists of an ensemble of non-harmonic quantum oscillators. In order to enable this analysis, we develop a method based on the Schrödinger picture. We investigate different possible choices on the basis of expanding the density operator, as it is crucial to select a basis that will expedite the numerical integration of the time-evolution equation without compromising the accuracy of the computed results. For this purpose, we developed an estimation technique that allows us to quantify the error that is unavoidably introduced when time-evolving the density matrix expansion over a finite-dimensional basis. Using this and other ways of evaluating a specific choice of basis, we arrive at the conclusion that the basis of eigenstates of a harmonic Hamiltonian leads to the best computational performance. Additionally, we present a method to quantify and reduce the error that is introduced when extracting relevant physical information about the ensemble of oscillators. The techniques presented here are specific to quantum heat cycles; the coexistence within a cycle of time-dependent Hamiltonian and coupling with a thermal reservoir are particularly complex to handle for the non-harmonic case. The present investigation is paving the way for numerical analysis of non-harmonic quantum heat machines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number359
Issue number5
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Otto cycle
  • Quantum engine
  • Quartic oscillator
  • Density matrix
  • Schrödinger picture


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