Thermal brachistochrone for harmonically confined Brownian particles
Física Teórica, Universidad de Sevilla, Apartado de Correos 1065, E-41080, Sevilla, Spain
Accepted: 4 August 2022
Published online: 6 September 2022
The overdamped Brownian dynamics of a harmonic oscillator is a paradigmatic system in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, which reliably models relevant stochastic systems such as colloidal particles submitted to optical confinement. In this work, optimal thermal protocols are tailored to minimise the connection time between equilibrium states of overdamped d-dimensional oscillators. Application of control theory reveals that these optimal protocols are of bang-bang type, that is, the temperature of the bath has to take alternatively the minimum and maximum values allowed. Minimum connection times increase with the considered dimension d. Remarkably, this is the case even for symmetric oscillators, for example, with spherical symmetry—in which the degeneracy of the elastic constant along the d possible directions seems to imply a minimum connection time equal to that for the one-dimensional case. This surprising unavoidable price to pay when increasing dimension is thoroughly investigated and understood on a physical basis. Moreover, information theory tools such as the thermodynamic length and its divergence are analysed over the brachistochrone.
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