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

The adiabatic piston: a perpetuum mobile in the mesoscopic realm

1,2,* , Di 2 and 3
1 Department of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA 2 Dipartimento di Fisica, Universit√° dell'Aquila, 67010 L'Aquila, Italy 3 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) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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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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