Physics Colloquium - Friday, Sept. 8th, 2006, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Chris Jarzynski
University of Maryland

Nonequilibrium thermodynamics at the microscale

What do the laws of thermodynamics look like, when applied to microscopic systems such as optically trapped colloids, single molecules manipulated with laser tweezers, and biomolecular machines? Over the past decade or so there has been considerable interest and progress in addressing this question. I will give an overview of some of these developments, with a focus on results pertaining to fluctuations far from thermal equilibrium, and I will argue that these developments have refined our understanding of the second law of thermodynamics.