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Entropy 2004, 6(1), 50-56; doi:10.3390/e6010050

The adiabatic piston: a perpetuum mobile in the mesoscopic realm

Department of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA
Dipartimento di Fisica, Universit√° dell'Aquila, 67010 L'Aquila, Italy
Istituto Nazionale per la Fisica della Materia, Universit√° Roma Tre, 00146 Roma, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 September 2003 / Accepted: 15 December 2003 / Published: 11 March 2004
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantum Limits to the Second Law of Thermodynamics)
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A detailed analysis of the adiabatic-piston problem reveals, for a finely-tuned choice of the spatial dimensions of the system, peculiar dynamical features that challenge the statement that an isolated system necessarily reaches a time-independent equilibrium state. In particular, the piston behaves like a perpetuum mobile, i.e., it never comes to a stop but keeps wandering, undergoing sizeable oscillations around the position corresponding to maximum entropy; this has remarkable implications on the entropy changes of a mesoscopic isolated system and on the limits of validity of the second law of thermodynamics in the mesoscopic realm.
Keywords: Brownian motors; perpetuum mobile; second law Brownian motors; perpetuum mobile; second law
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Crosignani, B.; Porto, P., Di; Conti, C. The adiabatic piston: a perpetuum mobile in the mesoscopic realm. Entropy 2004, 6, 50-56.

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