We develop a general framework to describe the thermodynamics of microscopic heat engines driven by arbitrary periodic temperature variations and modulations of a mechanical control parameter. Within the slow-driving regime, our approach leads to a universal trade-off relation between efficiency and power, which follows solely from geometric arguments and holds for any thermodynamically consistent microdynamics. Focusing on Lindblad dynamics, we derive a second bound showing that coherence as a genuine quantum effect inevitably reduces the performance of slow engine cycles regardless of the driving amplitudes. To show how our theory can be applied in practice, we work out a specific example, which lies within the range of current solid-state technologies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy