Blackbody radiation: Rosetta stone of heat bath models
The radiation field can be regarded as a collection of independent harmonic oscillators and, as such, constitutes a heat bath. Moreover, the known form of its interaction with charged particles provides a "rosetta stone" for deciding on and interpreting the correct interaction for the more general case of a quantum particle in an external potential and coupled to an arbitrary heat bath. In particular, combining QED with the machinery of stochastic physics, enables the usual scope of applications to be widened. We discuss blackbody radiation effects on: the equation of motion of a radiating electron (obtaining an equation of motion which is free from runaway solutions), anomalous diffusion, the spreading of a Gaussian wave packet, and decoherence effects due to zero-point oscillations. In addition, utilizing a formula we obtained for the free energy of an oscillator in a heat bath, enables us to determine all the quantum thermodynamic functions of interest (particularly in the areas of quantum information and nanophysics where small systems are involved) and from which we obtain temperature dependent Lamb shifts, quantum effects on the entropy at low temperature and implications for Nernst's law.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
O'Connell, R. (2007). Blackbody radiation: Rosetta stone of heat bath models. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, 6603 https://doi.org/10.1117/12.724352