Single Atom Heat Engine

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Single Atom Heat Engine

Post by LongtimeAirman on Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:29 pm

Forget photon/atom gate switches. These guys are creating atom engines!

Researchers create working single-atom engine in world first
by Colm Gorey

Which is pretty much the same as:

They Built the Single-Atom Engine And It Actually Works
Proposed in 2014, the one-atom engine is now real.
By William Herkewitz
Apr 14, 2016
Physicists have just built the smallest working engine ever created. It's a heat-powered motor barely larger than the single atom it runs on. Designed and build by a team of experimental physicists led by Johannes Roßnagel (pronounced 'Rossnahgel') at the University of Mainz in Germany, the single atom engine is about as efficient as your car at transforming the changing temperature into mechanical energy.
While scientists have previously created several micro-engines consisting of a mere 10,000 particles, Roßnagel's new engine blows these out of the water by paring down the machine to a singular atom housed in a nano-sized cone of electromagnetic radiation. The project is outlined today in the journal Science.

A single-atom heat engine
Making a teeny tiny engine
Steam locomotives, cars, and the drinking bird toy all convert heat into useful work as it cycles between two reservoirs at different temperatures. Usually, the working substance where the heat-work conversion occurs is a liquid or a gas, consisting of many molecules. Roβnagel et al. have made a working substance of a single calcium ion in a tapered ion trap. A laser-cooling beam plays the part of a cold reservoir for the calcium ion, and in turn, electric field noise acts as a hot reservoir.
Science, this issue p. 325
Heat engines convert thermal energy into mechanical work and generally involve a large number of particles. We report the experimental realization of a single-atom heat engine. An ion is confined in a linear Paul trap with tapered geometry and driven thermally by coupling it alternately to hot and cold reservoirs. The output power of the engine is used to drive a harmonic oscillation. From direct measurements of the ion dynamics, we were able to determine the thermodynamic cycles for various temperature differences of the reservoirs. We then used these cycles to evaluate the power P and efficiency η of the engine, obtaining values up to P = 3.4 × 10–22 joules per second and η = 0.28%, consistent with analytical estimations. Our results demonstrate that thermal machines can be reduced to the limit of single atoms.

Colm Gorey ends his article with the following:
This announcement has coincidentally coincided with the revelation that a team from Switzerland has been able to create a functioning magnet the size of an atom.

A magnet at this scale, the team believes, could lead to the creation of much smaller hard drives than current standards, but much more research has to be undertaken before that is a reality.

There are a lot of assertions here. I'm not a Science subscriber, can anyone share details?


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