Thermometry of ultracold atoms via non-equilibrium work distributions

T. H. Johnson, F. Cosco, M. T. Mitchison, D. Jaksch, S. R. Clark

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Estimating the temperature of a cold quantum system is difficult. Usually, one measures a well-understood thermal state and uses that prior knowledge to infer its temperature. In contrast, we introduce a method of thermometry that assumes minimal knowledge of the state of a system and is potentially non-destructive. Our method uses a universal temperature-dependence of the quench dynamics of an initially thermal system coupled to a qubit probe that follows from the Tasaki-Crooks theorem for non-equilibrium work distributions. We provide examples for a cold-atom system, in which our thermometry protocol may retain accuracy and precision at subnanokelvin temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review A: Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Updated to published version. 6 pages plus 11 pages of supplemental material, and some numerical data


  • quant-ph
  • cond-mat.quant-gas
  • cond-mat.stat-mech


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