Physicist designs perfect automotive engine

February 26, 2003

COLLEGE STATION, Wednesday, February 26, 2003 -- Marlan Scully, the Texas A&M University professor who applied quantum physics to the automotive engine and came up with a design that emits laser beams instead of exhaust, has been tinkering under the hood again. This time, he's sized up the perfect engine -- and improved it.

Scully, known as the "Quantum Cowboy" for his innovations in quantum physics and his Franklin Society prize-winning research into beef cattle production, has invented a theoretical design more efficient than the Carnot engine, which had stood for nearly two centuries as the standard for efficiency -- an engine so ideal it exists only in theory.

In an article published this month in Science, Scully reveals a design that extends it. Scully's design employs lasers, mirrors and a concept known as "quantum coherence" to drive a piston with less wasted energy than in the Carnot model.

In Scully's engine, a quantum heat bath supplies the power: beams of hot atoms produce radiation whose pressure drives a piston. Scully likens the atoms to coal and the radiation to steam that drove early railroad engines.

Scully, a member of the National Academy of Sciences who holds joint appointments in physics and electrical engineering, is world-renowned for his work. But even though he and his collaborators have improved the engine that had been considered perfect, Scully makes clear that they have not rewritten the laws of physics -- the second law of thermodynamics is not violated, he says, and perpetual motion is still a dream.

The new engine model follows Scully's recent invention of the "quantum afterburner," designed to capture energy from a car's exhaust, thus improving the efficiency of a classical four-stroke engine. The quantum afterburner uses a process that drains heat from the heat-engine gases and converts it into laser light.
Contact: Mark Minton, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University College of Science 979-862-1237; Marlan Scully 979-862-2333.

Texas A&M University

Related Quantum Physics Articles from Brightsurf:

Know when to unfold 'em: Applying particle physics methods to quantum computing
Borrowing a page from high-energy physics and astronomy textbooks, a team of physicists and computer scientists at Berkeley Lab has successfully adapted and applied a common error-reduction technique to the field of quantum computing.

Quantum physics: Physicists successfully carry out controlled transport of stored light
A team of physicists at Mainz University has successfully transported light stored in a quantum memory over a distance of 1.2 millimeters.

New system detects faint communications signals using the principles of quantum physics
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised and demonstrated a system that could dramatically increase the performance of communications networks while enabling record-low error rates in detecting even the faintest of signals.

Quirky response to magnetism presents quantum physics mystery
In a new study just published and highlighted as an Editor's Suggestion in Physical Review Letters, scientists describe the quirky behavior of one such magnetic topological insulator.

Evidence of power: Phasing quantum annealers into experiments from nonequilibrium physics
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) use commercially available quantum annealers, a type of quantum computer, to experimentally probe the validity of an important mechanism from nonequilibrium physics in open quantum systems.

Adapting ideas from quantum physics to calculate alternative interventions for infection and cancer
Published in Nature Physics, findings from a new study co-led by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University teams show for the first time how ideas from quantum physics can help develop novel drug interventions for bacterial infections and cancer.

Quantum physics: Realization of an anomalous Floquet topological system
An international team led by physicists from the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet (LMU) in Munich realized a novel genuine time-dependent topological system with ultracold atoms in periodically-driven optical honeycomb lattices.

Quantum physics provides a way to hide ignorance
Students can hide their ignorance and answer questions correctly in an exam without their lack of knowledge being detected by teachers -- but only in the quantum world.

Quantum physics: Physicists develop a new theory for Bose-Einstein condensates
Bose-Einstein condensates are often described as the fifth state of matter: At extremely low temperatures, gas atoms behave like a single particle.

Attosecond physics: Quantum brakes in molecules
Physicists have measured the flight times of electrons emitted from a specific atom in a molecule upon excitation with laser light.

Read More: Quantum Physics News and Quantum Physics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to