Mathematical Physics


Electrical Maxwell Demon and Szilard Engine Utilizing Johnson Noise, Measurement, Logic and Control

Authors: Laszlo B. Kish, Claes-Göran Granqvist

We introduce a purely electrical version of Maxwell’s demon which does not involve mechanically moving parts such as trapdoors, etc. It consists of a capacitor, resistors, amplifiers, logic circuitry and electronically controlled switches and uses thermal noise in resistors (Johnson noise) to pump heat. The only types of energy of importance in this demon are electrical energy and heat. We also demonstrate an entirely electrical version of Szilard’s engine, i.e., an information-controlled device that can produce work by employing thermal fluctuations. The only moving part is a piston that executes work, and the engine has purely electronic controls and it is free of the major weakness of the original Szilard engine in not requiring removal and repositioning the piston at the end of the cycle. For both devices, the energy dissipation in the memory and other binary informatics components are insignificant compared to the exponentially large energy dissipation in the analog part responsible for creating new information by measurement and decision. This result contradicts the view that the energy dissipation in the memory during erasure is the most essential dissipation process in a demon. Nevertheless the dissipation in the memory and information processing parts is sufficient to secure the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Comments: 17 Pages. Accepted for publication in PLOS ONE (September 6, 2012)

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Submission history

[v1] 2012-07-24 15:35:40
[v2] 2012-07-24 17:32:01
[v3] 2012-08-05 18:22:56
[v4] 2012-09-07 09:16:02

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