Article: Near-optimal protocols in complex nonequilibrium transformations

Todd R. Gingrich, Grant M. Rotskoff, Gavin E. Crooks, Phillip L. Geissler Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2016)

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The development of sophisticated experimental means to control nanoscale systems has motivated efforts to design driving protocols that minimize the energy dissipated to the environment. Computational models are a crucial tool in this practical challenge. We describe a general method for sampling an ensemble of finite-time, nonequilibrium protocols biased toward a low average dissipation. We show that this scheme can be carried out very efficiently in several limiting cases. As an application, we sample the ensemble of low-dissipation protocols that invert the magnetization of a 2D Ising model and explore how the diversity of the protocols varies in response to constraints on the average dissipation. In this example, we find that there is a large set of protocols with average dissipation close to the optimal value, which we argue is a general phenomenon.