A nanodevice that exploits quantum physics could act as an engine that is driven not by thermal energy, but by the act of making measurements.
In quantum mechanics, the act of measuring a system alters its state. A team led by Alexia Auffèves at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble proposes a quantum engine, in which the amount of energy produced is extracted by quantum fluctuations induced by measurements of the system. The engine produces photons that propagate in a circuit, and can be used later on for quantum computations. The faster the measurements are repeated, the more efficiently the engine runs.
The authors have simulated their quantum engine and say it could be demonstrated on existing lab equipment.