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Debra Searles is the professional name for an Australian theoretical chemist whose married name is Debra Bernhardt. She is best known for her contributions towards understanding the Fluctuation Theorem. This theorem shows the Second law of thermodynamics and the Zeroth law of thermodynamics can be derived mathematically rather than postulated as laws of Nature.
Bernhardt has previously worked as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science at Griffith University. During her time at Griffith University, she became the founding Director of the Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre. Her PhD studies were in the field of quantum chemistry and her fields of research now include statistical mechanics, dynamical systems theory, nonequilibrium fluids and molecular dynamics simulations of fluids. In 2012, Bernhardt joined the University of Queensland as a Professor in a joint appointment between the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. In the past, Bernhardt has also held research positions at the University of Basel in Switzerland and Australian National University.
Bernhardt's research interests are in the study of liquids under equilibrium and nonequilibrium conditions, development of the theory of nonequilibrium fluids and use of simulations to assist in understanding experimental results. Current research projects include:
Study of nonequilibrium liquids via statistical mechanics; nonequilibrium molecular dynamics; dynamical systems theory; chaos theory The fluctuation theorem The study of fluids in confined spaces Development of algorithms for molecular dynamics simulations Calculation of liquid properties: Combining molecular dynamics simulations with quantum mechanical calculations to determine properties of liquids
- D.J. Evans, D.J. Searles and E. Mittag (2001), "Fluctuation theorem for Hamiltonian systems - Le Chatelier's principle", Physical Review E, vol 63, 051105(4).
- H. Huber, B. Kirchner and D.J. Searles, (2002), "Is there an iceberg effect in the water/DMSO mixture?", Journal of Molecular Liquids, vol 98-99, 71-77.
- G.M. Wang, E.M. Sevick, E. Mittag, D.J. Searles and D.J. Evans, (2002) "Experimental demonstration of violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics , Physical Review Letters, vol 89, 050601.
- D.J. Searles and H. Huber, (2002), "Accurate determination of nuclear quadrupole coupling constants and other NMR parameters in liquids from the combination of molecular dynamics simulations and ab initio calculations", Encyclopedia of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance: A Supplement, (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Section Ed T. Farrar), vol 9, 215-226.
- Denis J. Evans, Debra J. Searles and Stephen R. Williams, (2016) "Fundamentals of Classical Statistical Thermodynamics, Dissipation, Relaxation and Fluctuation Theorems", pp205. (Wiley VCH, Weinheim Germany) print ISBN 978-3-527-41073-6, ePub: 978-3-527-41077-5.
- Fluctuation theorem
- Loschmidt's paradox - how can one reconcile thermodynamic irreversibility with the time reversibility inherent in the microscopic equations of motion for both classical and quantum mechanical systems
- Le Chatelier's principle - a nineteenth century principle that defied a mathematical proof until the advent of the Fluctuation Theorem.
- Crooks fluctuation theorem - an example of transient fluctuation theorem relating the dissipated work in non equilibrium transformations to free energy differences.
- Jarzynski equality - another nonequilibrium equality closely related to the fluctuation theorem and to the second law of thermodynamics
- Green-Kubo relations - there is a deep connection between the fluctuation theorem and the Green-Kubo relations for linear transport coefficients - like shear viscosity or thermal conductivity
- Brownian motor
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