The Quantum-Steampunk Laboratory Theoretical-physics research group of Nicole Yunger Halpern

Thermodynamics emerged during the 1800s to describe large, classical systems, such as steam engines, and equilibrium. In contrast, quantum, small classical, and far-from-equilibrium systems dominate much of today’s science, from quantum computers to molecules. Nineteenth-century thermodynamics—including concepts such as heat work, and efficiency—needs updating for the 21st century.

We re-envision thermodynamics using the mathematical and conceptual toolkit of quantum information theory. We call this research “quantum steampunk,” after the steampunk genre of art, literature, and film that juxtaposes Victorian settings with futuristic technologies. Leveraging quantum thermodynamics, we achieve new perspectives on problems across science, including atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics; condensed matter; chemistry; high-energy physics; and biophysics.

Our group is theoretical, collaborative, and interdisciplinary. Our research ranges from abstract theory and foundations to experimental collaborations and applications.

Scientific-research affiliations