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Applications and perspectives of master equation treatments of driven open quantum systems
In this talk I will (with different examples) discuss the master equation formalism as an important tool in dealing with open quantum systems. Its microscopic derivation leads to interesting properties, such as the obedience to thermodynamic laws even in presence of time-dependent driving and different equilibrium reservoirs. These can be exploited to construct thermal nano-machines operating at steady state that can e.g. convert thermal gradients into electric power. Generalized master equations also allow us to extract the Full Counting Statistics of heat and matter exchanges with ambient reservoirs. On the one hand, this can serve as an important diagnostic tool for quantum properties of the system. On the other hand, when applied to system-detector setups, control actions conditioned on the Full Counting Statistics can implement feedback control loops altering the second law whilst preserving the first (Maxwell demon). Finally, I will discuss the challenges encountered when extending the applicability of quantum master equations beyond the conventional weak-coupling regime.