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Szilard's information engine: Recent progress and a chaotic analog
Keywords: Information Engine, Maxwell's Demon, Chaos
Recently, nano-scale implementations of Maxwell's famous thought experiment (known as Maxwell's demon) have been realized in semiconductors. Generally, these realizations consist of coupled, single electron devices integrated with autonomous mechanisms that extract information from a system by applying feedback schemes. Ultimately, these actions would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics if the entropic relationships inherent to measurement and information processing were not properly accounted for. Famously, Szilard detailed an apparatus that serves as a tutorial for this accounting. Szilard’s results have been interpreted as steps towards the generalization of the Second Law to include the role of information in Thermodynamics. Interestingly, the cycle of Szilard’s engine has recently been described as a chaotic Baker’s map. Further, solvable models have also been introduced that illustrate arrangements for producing work by rectifying thermal fluctuations and writing information to memory. To date, several experiments have confirmed operation of Maxwell demon devices (known as information engines) which can be framed to fit engineering applications such as on-chip refrigeration and power harvesting. In this work, we review these concepts and survey reported experimental verification of information engines. Next, we explore the possibility of a macro-scale analog of Szilard’s engine where work is extracted from chaotic rather than thermal fluctuations. Specifically, a chaotically oscillating circuit serves as the working substance. Active feedback control performs transformations on the oscillator analogous to stages of Szilard's engine. We explain how work extraction from chaos is facilitated by information processing
Aubrey Nathan Beal, Electronics Engineer
U.S. Army AMRDEC - Charles M. Bowden Laboratory
Redstone Arsenal, AL

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