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Stochastic paths controlling speed and dissipation.

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Bone, Rebecca A 
Sharpe, Daniel J 
Wales, David J 
Green, Jason R 


Natural processes occur in a finite amount of time and dissipate energy, entropy, and matter. Near equilibrium, thermodynamic intuition suggests that fast irreversible processes will dissipate more energy and entropy than slow quasistatic processes connecting the same initial and final states. For small systems, recently discovered thermodynamic speed limits suggest that faster processes will dissipate more than slower processes. Here, we test the hypothesis that this relationship between speed and dissipation holds for stochastic paths far from equilibrium. To analyze stochastic paths on finite timescales, we derive an exact expression for the path probabilities of continuous-time Markov chains from the path summation solution to the master equation. We present a minimal model for a driven system in which relative energies of the initial and target states control the speed, and the nonequilibrium currents of a cycle control the dissipation. Although the hypothesis holds near equilibrium, we find that faster processes can dissipate less under far-from-equilibrium conditions because of strong currents. This model serves as a minimal prototype for designing kinetics to sculpt the nonequilibrium path space so that faster paths produce less dissipation.



51 Physical Sciences, 5103 Classical Physics

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Phys Rev E

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American Physical Society (APS)