October 12, 2023 12:30 pm
October 12, 2023 2:00 pm
Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland and the National Academy of Sciences
Christopher Jarzynski is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a UMD Distinguished University Professor. He received the 2019 Lars Onsager Prize for theoretical statistical physics, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2020 Simons Fellowship. In 2020, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on statistical mechanics and thermodynamics at the molecular level, with a particular focus on the foundations of nonequilibrium thermodynamics.
Thermodynamics provides a robust conceptual framework and set of laws that govern the exchange of energy and matter. Although these laws were originally articulated for macroscopic objects, nanoscale systems also exhibit “thermodynamic-like” behavior – for instance, biomolecular motors convert chemical fuel into mechanical work, and single molecules exhibit hysteresis when manipulated using optical tweezers. To what extent can the laws of thermodynamics be scaled down to apply to individual microscopic systems, and what new features emerge at the nanoscale? I will describe some of the challenges and recent progress – both theoretical and experimental – associated with addressing these questions. Along the way, my talk will touch on non-equilibrium fluctuations, “violations” of the second law, the thermodynamic arrow of time, nanoscale feedback control, strong system-environment coupling, and quantum thermodynamics.
The Pariser and Parr families established the annual Pariser-Parr Lecture to bring influential and cutting-edge researchers to UNC to give UNC students an opportunity to hear research they may not otherwise have a chance to learn. We thank them for their generosity, and look forward to more lectures to honor Dr. Pariser and Prof. Parr for all of their groundbreaking work at UNC and beyond.