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      Direct measurement of weakly nonequilibrium system entropy is consistent with Gibbs–Shannon form

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          Abstract

          <p id="d12971480e181">The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system is constant or increasing. This constrains the laws of physics, ruling out perpetual-motion machines that convert heat to work without any side effect. At its heart, the second law is a statement about entropy, yet entropy is an elusive concept: To date, it has not been directly measured but is rather inferred from other quantities, such as the integral of the specific heat over temperature. Here, by measuring the work required to erase a fraction of a bit of information, we isolate directly the change in entropy, showing that it is compatible with the functional form proposed by Shannon, demonstrating its physical meaning in this context. </p><p class="first" id="d12971480e184">Stochastic thermodynamics extends classical thermodynamics to small systems in contact with one or more heat baths. It can account for the effects of thermal fluctuations and describe systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium. A basic assumption is that the expression for Shannon entropy is the appropriate description for the entropy of a nonequilibrium system in such a setting. Here we measure experimentally this function in a system that is in local but not global equilibrium. Our system is a micron-scale colloidal particle in water, in a virtual double-well potential created by a feedback trap. We measure the work to erase a fraction of a bit of information and show that it is bounded by the Shannon entropy for a two-state system. Further, by measuring directly the reversibility of slow protocols, we can distinguish unambiguously between protocols that can and cannot reach the expected thermodynamic bounds. </p>

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          Most cited references 52

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          A nonequilibrium equality for free energy differences

           C Jarzynski (1996)
          An expression is derived for the classical free energy difference between two configurations of a system, in terms of an ensemble of finite-time measurements of the work performed in parametrically switching from one configuration to the other. Two well-known equilibrium identities emerge as limiting cases of this result.
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            Stochastic thermodynamics, fluctuation theorems, and molecular machines

             Udo Seifert (2012)
            Stochastic thermodynamics as reviewed here systematically provides a framework for extending the notions of classical thermodynamics like work, heat and entropy production to the level of individual trajectories of well-defined non-equilibrium ensembles. It applies whenever a non-equilibrium process is still coupled to one (or several) heat bath(s) of constant temperature. Paradigmatic systems are single colloidal particles in time-dependent laser traps, polymers in external flow, enzymes and molecular motors in single molecule assays, small biochemical networks and thermoelectric devices involving single electron transport. For such systems, a first-law like energy balance can be identified along fluctuating trajectories. Various integral and detailed fluctuation theorems, which are derived here in a unifying approach from one master theorem, constrain the probability distributions for work, heat and entropy production depending on the nature of the system and the choice of non-equilibrium conditions. For non-equilibrium steady states, particularly strong results hold like a generalized fluctuation-dissipation theorem involving entropy production. Ramifications and applications of these concepts include optimal driving between specified states in finite time, the role of measurement-based feedback processes and the relation between dissipation and irreversibility. Efficiency and, in particular, efficiency at maximum power, can be discussed systematically beyond the linear response regime for two classes of molecular machines, isothermal ones like molecular motors, and heat engines like thermoelectric devices, using a common framework based on a cycle decomposition of entropy production.
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              Verification of the Crooks fluctuation theorem and recovery of RNA folding free energies

              The description of nonequilibrium processes in nano-sized objects, where the typical energies involved are a few times, is increasingly becoming central to disciplines as diverse as condensed-matter physics, materials science, and biophysics. Major recent developments towards a unified treatment of arbitrarily large fluctuations in small systems are described by fluctuation theorems that relate the probabilities of a system absorbing from or releasing to the bath a given amount of energy in a nonequilibrium process. Here we experimentally verify the Crooks Fluctuation Theorem (CFT) under weak and strong nonequilibrium conditions by using optical tweezers to measure the irreversible mechanical work during the unfolding and refolding of a small RNA hairpin and an RNA three-helix junction. We also show that the CFT provides a powerful way to obtain folding free energies in biomolecules by determining the crossing between the unfolding and refolding irreversible work distributions. The method makes it possible to obtain folding free energies in nonequilibrium processes that dissipate up to of the average total work exerted, thereby paving the way for reconstructing free energy landscapes along reaction coordinates in nonequilibrium single-molecule experiments.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                October 17 2017
                October 17 2017
                : 114
                : 42
                : 11097-11102
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1708689114
                5651767
                29073017
                © 2017

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