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Quantumness of correlations and Maxwell's demons in elementary scattering processes—Energetic consequences

Chatzidimitriou-Dreismann, C. A.; Dreismann, A.

Inst. Chemie

The interactions between physical systems generally lead to the formation of correlations. In this paper we consider the phenomena of entanglement and "quantumness of correlations", such as quantum discord, with particular emphasis on their energetic consequences for the participating systems. We describe a number of theoretical models that are commonly employed in this context, highlighting the general character of one of their most intriguing results: In contradiction to conventional expectations, erasure (decay, consumption) of quantum correlations may be a source of work, i.e. may have "negative energetic costs". We report experimental evidence of this surprising effect obtained within the framework of an elementary scattering experiment, namely ultrafast neutron Compton scattering from normal-state liquid 4He. The general theory of quantumness of correlations provides a natural way of interpreting the reported results, which stand in blatant contrast to the conventional theory of scattering, where neutron-atom-environment quantum correlations and decoherence play no role. Moreover, they provide a new operational meaning of discord and related measures of quantumness.