Thermodynamics of currents in nonequilibrium diffusive systems: theory and simulation

Pablo I. Hurtado, Carlos P. Espigares, Jesus J. del Pozo, Pedro L. Garrido

screenshot_16Understanding the physics of nonequilibrium systems remains as one of the major challenges of theoretical physics. This problem can be cracked in part by investigating the macroscopic fluctuations of the currents characterizing nonequilibrium behavior, their statistics and associated structures. This fundamental line of research has been severely hampered by the overwhelming complexity of this problem. However, during the last years two new general methods have appeared to investigate fluctuating behavior that are changing radically our understanding of nonequilibrium physics: a powerful macroscopic fluctuation theory (MFT) and a set of advanced computational techniques to measure rare events. In this work we study the statistics of current fluctuations in nonequilibrium diffusive systems, using macroscopic fluctuation theory as theoretical framework, and advanced Monte Carlo simulations of several stochastic lattice gases as a laboratory to test the emerging picture. Our quest will bring us from (1) the confirmation of an additivity conjecture in one and two dimensions, which considerably simplifies the MFT complex variational problem to compute the thermodynamics of currents, to (2) the discovery of novel isometric fluctuation relations, which opens an unexplored route toward a deeper understanding of nonequilibrium physics by bringing symmetry principles to the realm of fluctuations, and to (3) the observation of coherent structures in fluctuations, which appear via dynamic phase transitions involving a spontaneous symmetry breaking event at the fluctuating level. The clear-cut observation, measurement and characterization of these unexpected phenomena, well described by MFT, strongly support this theoretical scheme as the natural theory to understand the thermodynamics of currents in nonequilibrium diffusive media, opening new avenues of research in nonequilibrium physics.

J. Stat. Phys. 154, 214 (2014)arXiv:1312.1246