Imagine a big pendulum clock surrounded by several small ones that start ticking at different rhythms. If the clock pendulums are allowed to adjust their rhythms based on those of their neighbours, over time they can synchronize and move in unison with one another. This synchronization process involves two feedback mechanisms: interactions between the identical small clocks and interaction of each small clock with the big, external one.

In the quantum world, however, this co-existence – and the impact of quantum correlations on it – have been largely unexplored. The possible thermodynamic benefits of synchronization in quantum systems have also not been investigated much.

Researchers from the Center for Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems at the Institute for Basic Science, Korea, and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India,  recently set out to address this gap. Their work sheds light on how the two synchronization mechanisms – interaction between systems and interactions with a common external source – compete or cooperate when exhibiting thermodynamic behaviour in quantum machines.

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