Passivity and practical work extraction using Gaussian operations

Eric G. Brown, Nicolai Friis, Marcus Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. Quantum states that can yield work in a cyclical Hamiltonian process form one of the primary resources in the context of quantum thermodynamics. Conversely, states whose average energy cannot be lowered by unitary transformations are called passive. However, while work may be extracted from non-passive states using arbitrary unitaries, the latter may be hard to realize in practice. It is therefore pertinent to consider the passivity of states under restricted classes of operations that can be feasibly implemented. Here, we ask how restrictive the class of Gaussian unitaries is for the task of work extraction. We investigate the notion of Gaussian passivity, that is, we present necessary and sufficient criteria identifying all states whose energy cannot be lowered by Gaussian unitaries. For all other states we give a prescription for the Gaussian operations that extract the maximal amount of energy. Finally, we show that the gap between passivity and Gaussian passivity is maximal, i.e., Gaussian-passive states may still have a maximal amount of energy that is extractable by arbitrary unitaries, even under entropy constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113028
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Gaussian operations
  • passivity
  • quantum thermodynamics


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