Physicists have converted information into energy


04/10/2010

Scientists were able to demonstrate for the first time information of heat engine that can produce a revolution in the way energy recharge nanodevices.

Imagine that there are tiny steps, in the lowest of which is a small bead polisterolovaya (a ladder can be easily done by using the electric field).

Naturally, this bead is subjected to constant pressure of molecules that are moving chaotically around her, due to well-known phenomenon called Brownian motion.

Most often, the Brownian motion of the bead pushes down, but sometimes the pressure is gaining strength enough to push the beads one step up.

If bead monitor with the camera, it is possible to notice when a bead passes a notch at which point the electric field is changed so that it could not descend below. That is behind the beads form a kind of barrier.

The repeated repetition of this process, the bead will move up the ladder, due to Brownian motion.

This experiment was successfully carried out Shoichi Toyabe from Chuo University in Tokyo and several of his colleagues. The results indicate that the bead, somehow, can extract energy from the environment, which at first glance to contradict the second law of thermodynamics.

Of course, the point of this experiment is deeper than it seems at first glance. Toyabe colleagues created an experimental version of the famous Maxwell’s demon. Imagine a box filled with air, but divided into two halves septum. Maxwell’s demon is an imaginary creature that is capable of providing access through the barrier (only in one direction, say from left to right), only the fastest molecules, blocking the road for slow particles.

After all, the fastest molecules accumulated on one of the sides, which will be hot and the other side to cool down. Thus, unable to do work on one side and the cooling heat another without additional energy expenditure.

The question is whether breaks demon Maxwell’s second law of thermodynamics, according to which the heat can not be transferred from a cold to a hot body.

In our time, it is assumed that Maxwell’s demon does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, as before to decide which molecules in which direction to pass, it must measure their speed, and this in itself requires energy. Thus, there is no contradiction.

But the system does not enter the energy in the traditional sense: nothing is heated and there is no acceleration of the molecules. Instead, the information itself is the means of energy transfer.

Previously, it was just a curious thought experiment. But Toyabe colleagues managed to run this experiment in practice, demonstrating for the first time such transfer of energy. In essence, they are converted into the energy information.

There is no violation of the laws of thermodynamics. They used a video camera to identify the location of the beads - and taking into account the energy consumption of a video camera, all the works in accordance with the conclusions of thermodynamics.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of their achievements: they managed to control the nanomachines consisting of beads, climb the stairs, using information as a source of energy.

They told me that this is a completely new type of engine, which they called a heat engine information. Not difficult to imagine the potential of the present discovery.

This will feed the nanomachines using information as a transmitter of energy, even without a direct link with nanomachines.

Today, scientists have set a goal of reducing the following observation system. The camcorder is too high. Naturally, it would be much more convenient to use a microscopic method for tracking the environment to use the information collected to power nanodevices.

It is not clear how this can be done, but Toyabe colleagues are working on it.

Original: Technologyreview


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