This is a joint project with Dr. Cyriaque Genet of the Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires (ISIS) at the university of Strasbourg. Stochastic thermodynamics is an emergent field of research that uses stochastic variables to better understand the non-equilibrium dynamics of many microscopic systems such as colloidal particles. In the experiments carried out at ISIS, a Brownian particle is immersed in water and trapped by a laser beam inside a harmonic potential. The position of the particle is our stochastic variable, which can be controlled by varying the stiffness of the trap. We devised an optimal protocol that transfers the particle from one equilibrium to another, while minimizing the work expended and the duration of the transfer. The theoretical predictions fit nicely with the experimental results.
Energetics associated with three optimal protocols. The ensemble average cumulative work (blue curves) and heat (red curves) are measured with respect to the initial equilibrium.