The concept of work in thermodynamics is well known and can be well

defined in a process in which a property of the system (the position of a

piston, the strength of a field) changes from an initial to a final value.

In quantum mechanics it has been recently realised that work cannot be

associated with the expectation value of an observable but rather with the

transition probabilities between energy eigenstates [1]. As a consequence,

only the work probability distribution can be properly defined for a given

process.

In this seminar I will first revise the recent developments concerning the

definition of work in quantum mechanics. Then I will discuss a proposal,

based on Ramsey interferometry, for measuring the work probability

distribution in an experiment. Although our proposal can be adapted to

most quantum technologies, I will explicitly discuss one example based on

an optomechanical setup.

[1] M. Campisi, P. Haenggi and P. Talkner, Rev. Mod. Phys. 83, 771 (2011).

[2] L. Mazzola, G. De Chiara and M. Paternostro, arxiv:1301.7030