We revisit and analyze the thermodynamic efficiency of the Feynman-Smoluchowski (FS) ratchet, a classical thought experiment describing an autonomous heat-work converter. Starting from the full kinetics of the FS ratchet and deriving the exact forms of the hidden dissipations resulting from coarse graining, we restate the historical controversy over its thermodynamic efficiency. The existence of hidden entropy productions implies that the standard framework of stochastic thermodynamics applied to the coarse-grained descriptions fails in capturing the dissipative feature of the system. In response to this problem, we explore an extended framework of stochastic thermodynamics to reconstruct the hidden entropy production from the coarse-grained dynamics. The approach serves as a key example of how we can systematically address the problem of thermodynamic efficiency in a multivariable fluctuating nonequilibrium system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics