Carnot's cycle for small systems: Irreversibility and cost of operations
Physical review. E, Statistical physics, plasmas, fluids, and related interdisciplinary topics
We employ the recently developed framework of the energetics of stochastic processes (called 'stochastic energetics'), to re-analyze the Carnot cycle in detail, taking account of fluctuations, without taking the thermodynamic limit. We find that both processes of connection to and disconnection from heat baths and adiabatic processes that cause distortion of the energy distribution are sources of inevitable irreversibility within the cycle. Also, the so-called null-recurrence property of the
... ulative efficiency of energy conversion over many cycles and the irreversible property of isolated, purely mechanical processes under external 'macroscopic' operations are discussed in relation to the impossibility of a perpetual machine, or Maxwell's demon.