Thermodynamic anomaly of the free damped quantum particle: the bath perspective

G.-L. Ingold

Eur. Phys. J. B 85, 30 (2012) DOI: 10.1140/epjb/e2011-20930-2

A possible definition of the specific heat of open quantum systems is based on the reduced partition function of the system. For a free damped quantum particle, it has been found that under certain conditions, this specific heat can become negative at low temperatures. In contrast to the conventional approaches focusing on the system degree of freedom, here we concentrate on the changes induced in the environment when the system is coupled to it. Our analysis is carried out for an Ohmic environment consisting of harmonic oscillators and allows to identify the mechanism by which the specific heat becomes negative. Furthermore, the formal condition for the occurrence of a negative specific heat is given a physical interpretation in terms of the total mass of bath oscillators and the system mass.