Tunable photonic heat transport in a quantum heat valve

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Quantum thermodynamics is emerging both as a topic of fundamental research and as a means to understand and potentially improve the performance of quantum devices1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. A prominent platform for achieving the necessary manipulation of quantum states is superconducting circuit quantum electrodynamics (QED)11. In this platform, thermalization of a quantum system12,13,14,15 can be achieved by interfacing the circuit QED subsystem with a thermal reservoir of appropriate Hilbert dimensionality. Here we study heat transport through an assembly consisting of a superconducting qubit16 capacitively coupled between two nominally identical coplanar waveguide resonators, each equipped with a heat reservoir in the form of a normal-metal mesoscopic resistor termination. We report the observation of tunable photonic heat transport through the resonator–qubit–resonator assembly, showing that the reservoir-to-reservoir heat flux depends on the interplay between the qubit–resonator and the resonator–reservoir couplings, yielding qualitatively dissimilar results in different coupling regimes. Our quantum heat valve is relevant for the realization of quantum heat engines17 and refrigerators, which can be obtained, for example, by exploiting the time-domain dynamics and coherence of driven superconducting qubits18,19. This effort would ultimately bridge the gap between the fields of quantum information and thermodynamics of mesoscopic systems.

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Fig. 1: Quantum heat valve design.
Fig. 2: Fundamental excitations of the resonator-qubit-resonator assembly.
Fig. 3: Modulation of photonic heat transport.
Fig. 4: Quantum heat valve performance.


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This work was funded through Academy of Finland grants 297240, 312057 and 303677 and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the European Research Council (ERC) programme and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (grant agreements 742559 and 766025). This work was supported by Centre for Quantum Engineering (CQE) at Aalto University. We acknowledge the facilities and technical support of Otaniemi research infrastructure for Micro and Nanotechnologies (OtaNano), and VTT Technical Research Center for sputtered Nb films. We acknowledge M. Meschke for technical help and O.-P. Saira for useful discussions in the initial stages of this work. We thank D. Golubev and Y. Galperin for helpful discussions.

Author information

The experiment was conceived by J.P. and B.K., with contributions from C.D.C. A.R. performed the experiment. A.R., J.S. and Y.-C.C. designed and fabricated the samples. Data analysis was performed by A.R. based on theoretical models conceived and solved by J.P. and B.K. Y.-C.C. performed the spectroscopy measurements. J.T.P. provided technical support in fabrication, low-temperature set-ups and measurements. All authors have been involved in the discussion of scientific results and implications of this work. The manuscript was written by A.R. with contributions from J.P., B.K. and J.S.

Correspondence to Alberto Ronzani.

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Ronzani, A., Karimi, B., Senior, J. et al. Tunable photonic heat transport in a quantum heat valve. Nature Phys 14, 991–995 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0199-4

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