Objectives

The main objective of the Action is to establish the scientific foundations for thermodynamic technologies in the quantum regime. Specific goals of the Action and paths to achieve them are:

Coordinate European research on quantum thermodynamics.

European researchers have a strong record of pioneering research in thermodynamics and quantum sciences. However, research communities are disconnected which leads to, from a European perspective, inefficient research planning and a high risk of duplication of efforts. The Action will reduce this risk substantially by establishing and fostering the collaboration between research groups that play a leading role in these areas, and enable researchers to do their best work in an informed, collaborative and coordinated way.

To make this effort a concerted Action that provides the larger-scale coordination of research activity of the individual groups on European level the following key activities will be planned, organised or delegated by the Management Committee (MC) that are crucial to the future direction and success of the Action:

Working group meetings that provide European researchers with a platform to identify and agree on important research questions in quantum thermodynamics, and regularly discuss and solve them together. WG meetings are led by the WG leaders and aim to:

  • Provide a focussed platform for researchers from different backgrounds.
  • Encourage open discussion and collaboration.
  • Steer implementation of work plan to reach milestones.
  • Identify and delegate tasks between researchers/research groups.
  • Support coordination of individual/national research activities that complement each other and avoid duplication of work.

Conferences encourage the dissemination of research outcomes, enable discussions between researchers, give ESRs the opportunity to present, and educate PhD students and researchers entering the field through tutorials.

The Action will coordinate Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) that enable ESRs and established PIs to visit network nodes across Europe to form and maintain research collaborations to progress specific research questions.

Support students and early-stage researchers.

The Action is particularly directed towards students and researchers at an early stage of their careers. Having limited experience and connections, it is harder for ESRs to disseminate their results, grasp the global research directions, and find collaborations. The Action will promote the integration of ESRs in the scientific community. The Action will also provide master and PhD students with the theoretical foundations and technical tools they need to pursue research on the field of quantum thermodynamics at regular training schools.

The Action will organize two training schools for around 40 master and PhD students. The lectures will be recorded and the videos will be publicly available online. 20% of the conference programmes will be tutorials directed at very early stage researchers. ESRs will be particularly encouraged to participate in working group meetings and conferences organized within the Action and will present at least 40% of the conference tutorials and talks. Short-term scientific missions are also aimed at ESRs. Student support will be available for the annual conference.

Support gender balance.

The number of female researchers in fundamental physics, in particular in more senior positions, is disproportionately small. In addition female speaker percentage at high profile events in neighbouring fields is staggeringly low at around 5-10%. (QIP 2012: 2/42, QCrypt 2011: 2/30, QCMC 2012: 1/25.) Starting with just under 15% female participants, the Action aims to promote the female participation in the field of quantum thermodynamics to at least 25% across all career stages and increase the visibility of female researchers.

The Action aims to recruit female researchers for at least 25% of the talks at the conferences and training schools. Training schools will aim to have at least 25% female student participation.

Support researchers with caring responsibilities.

Participation in conferences and short-term visits to other research groups are important parts of scientific life. However, researchers with young children (or other caring responsibilities) struggle to attend due to lack of flexible caring arrangements. The Action will address this problem to enable these researchers to fully participate in the network’s events.

Local childcare will be provided at the annual conferences. STSMs will have additional funding to support travelling researchers with young children. The MC will try to accommodate other caring responsibilities.

Raise awareness of quantum thermodynamics in the scientific community and in the general public.

Recent developments in the field can inspire scientists and engineers from other areas of research, for example, those working on efficient computation or on the development of batteries. Classic university courses on thermodynamics and statistical physics will also benefit from the novel perspective brought by quantum thermodynamics. Finally, due to its potential applications, this field is ideal to stimulate the general public’s interest in fundamental questions in science.

The dedicated website of the Action will feature summaries of each area of research, aimed at people with a scientific background and lay people. Learning materials from the training schools and media releases on the network’s research will also be published. A highly visual experiment will provide outreach opportunities that inform and involve the general public about the Action’s research and its importance.

Establish a permanent legacy.

The Action aims to establish a united and focussed community that will take the Action aims further and beyond the duration of the COST network.

Planning effective use of national funding and discussing, organising and preparing applications for continued European training and research projects will ensure a permanent legacy.