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Minimal length scales for the existence of local temperature

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We review a recent approach to determine the minimal spatial length scales on which local temperature exists. After mentioning an experiment where such considerations are of relevance, we first discuss the precise definition of the existence of local temperature and its physical relevance. The approach to calculate the length scales in question considers homogenous chains of particles with nearest-neighbour interactions. The entire chain is assumed to be in a thermal equilibrium state and it is analysed when such an equilibrium state at the same time exists for a local part of it. The result yields estimates for real materials, the liability of which is discussed in the sequel. We finally consider a possibility to detect the existence or non-existence of a local thermal state in experiment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: QOLS, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BW, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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