P.L. Garrido, P.I. Hurtado, D. Manzano, F. de los Santos
The special issue of European Physical Journal Special Topics has been finally published. It originated at the 14th Granada Seminar on Quantum Systems in and out of equilibrium: Fundamentals, dynamics and applications, which took place in 2017, from June 20 to June 23 in Granada, Spain. This edition was sponsored by the University of Granada through the Department of Electromagnetism and Physics of the Matter and the Faculty of Sciences, the Spanish Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, and the European Physical Society. There were in this edition a total of 57 lectures and 27 poster contributions covering quantum aspects of thermalization, quantum transport, quantum effects in condensed matter, biology, quantum computation, open quantum systems, quantum fluctuations and large deviations, and quantum thermodynamics.
Controlling transport in quantum systems holds the key to many promising quantum technologies. Here we review the power of symmetry as a resource to manipulate quantum transport, and apply these ideas to engineer novel quantum devices. Using tools from open quantum systems and large deviation theory, we show that symmetry-mediated control of transport is enabled by a pair of twin dynamic phase transitions in current statistics, accompanied by a coexistence of different transport channels. By playing with the symmetry decomposition of the initial state, one can modulate the importance of the different transport channels and hence control the flowing current. Motivated by the problem of energy harvesting we illustrate these ideas in open quantum networks, an analysis which leads to the design of a symmetry-controlled quantum thermal switch. We review an experimental setup recently proposed for symmetry-mediated quantum control in the lab based on a linear array of atom-doped optical cavities, and the possibility of using transport as a probe to uncover hidden symmetries, as recently demonstrated in molecular junctions, is also discussed. Overall, these results demonstrate the importance of symmetry not only as a organizing principle in physics but also as a tool to control quantum systems.
Symmetry is a powerful concept in physics, and its recent application to understand nonequilibrium behavior is providing deep insights and groundbreaking exact results. Here we show how to harness symmetry to control transport and statistics in open quantum systems. Such control is enabled by a first-order-type dynamic phase transition in current statistics and the associated coexistence of different transport channels (or nonequilibrium steady states) classified by symmetry. Microreversibility then ensues, via the Gallavotti-Cohen fluctuation theorem, a twin dynamic phase transition for rare current fluctuations. Interestingly, the symmetry present in the initial state is spontaneously broken at the fluctuating level, where the quantum system selects the symmetry sector that maximally facilitates a given fluctuation. We illustrate these results in a qubit network model motivated by the problem of coherent energy harvesting in photosynthetic complexes, and introduce the concept of a symmetry-controlled quantum thermal switch, suggesting symmetry-based design strategies for quantum devices with controllable transport properties.