Oct 5, 2007
The European Physical Journal B
Stochastic thermodynamics provides a framework for describing small systems like colloids or biomolecules driven out of equilibrium but still in contact with a heat bath. Both, a first-law like energy balance involving exchanged heat and entropy production entering refinements of the second law can consistently be defined along single stochastic trajectories. Various exact relations involving the distribution of such quantities like integral and detailed fluctuation theorems for total entropy production and the Jarzynski relation follow from such an approach based on Langevin dynamics. Analogues of these relations can be proven for any system obeying a stochastic master equation like, in particular, (bio)chemically driven enzyms or whole reaction networks. The perspective of investigating such relations for stochastic field equations like the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation is sketched as well.