Nonequilibrium Aspects of Quantum Thermodynamics

Questions about the route from a nonequilibrium initial state to the final global equilibrium have played an important role since the early days of phenomenological thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Nowadays, their implications reach from central technical devices of the contemporary human society, like heat engines, refrigerators and computers to recent physics at almost all length scales, from Bose-Einstein-condensation and superconductors to black holes. This work addresses the foundation of macroscopic laws concerning the decay to equilibrium, e.g. the celebrated Fourier's Law, on microscopic Schrödingerian quantum dynamics. Here, a proper treatment requires the usage of modern methods in theoretical physics such as the Theory of Open Quantum Systems, the Kubo Formula in Liouville Space and the novel Hilbert Space Average Method. It turns out that both the relaxation to equilibrium as well as the transport of heat is mainly determined by quantum effects comparable to the role of entanglement in considerations of the global equilibrium within Quantum Thermodynamics. Finally, the foundation of phenomenological thermodynamics on a microscopic theory will hopefully improve our understanding of those most impressive and far-reaching theories and their background and will possibly open the way to overcoming their nanoscopic limits.