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Absolute temperature

n. (Abbr. abs)
Temperature measured or calculated on an absolute scale.
Thermodynamic temperature
Temperature scales
Delisle Leyden Newton Rankine Raumur Rmer

Conversion formulas
This article is about the technical details of the thermodynamic concept of
temperature. For more general articles see above and to the right, or see
categories Temperature, Orders of magnitude (temperature), Units of
temperature, Scales, Thermodynamics.
Thermodynamic temperature (formerly called absolute temperature) is a measure, in
kelvins (K), of temperature for thermodynamics. The (unattainable) temperature of 0 K is
called "absolute zero", and coincides with the minimum molecular activity (i.e., thermal
energy) of matter, which is zero, except for the residual quantum mechanical zero-point
In practice, the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90) serves as an operational
definition and the basis for high-accuracy temperature measurements in science and

Derivation of thermodynamic temperature

Strictly speaking, the temperature of a system is well-defined only if its particles (atoms,
molecules, electrons, photons) are at equilibrium and obey a Boltzmann distribution (or
its quantum mechanical counterpart). There are many possible scales of temperature,
derived from a variety of observations of physical phenomena. The thermodynamic
temperature can be shown to have special properties, and in particular can be seen to be
uniquely defined (up to some constant multiplicative factor) by considering the efficiency
of idealized heat engines. Thus the ratios of temperatures, T2/T1, are the same in all
absolute scales.
Loosely stated, temperature controls the flow of heat between two systems and the
Universe, as we would expect any natural system, tends to progress so as to maximize
entropy. Thus, we would expect there to be some relationship between temperature and
entropy. In order to find this relationship let's first consider the relationship between heat,
work and temperature. A heat engine is a device for converting heat into mechanical work
and analysis of the Carnot heat engine provides the necessary relationships we seek. The
work from a heat engine corresponds to the difference between the heat put into the
system at the high temperature, qH and the heat ejected at the low temperature, qC. The
efficiency is the work divided by the heat put into the system or:

where wcy is the work done per cycle. We see that the efficiency depends only on qC/qH.
Because qC and qH correspond to heat transfer at the temperatures TC and TH, respectively,
qC/qH should be some function of these temperatures:

Carnot's theorem states that all reversible engines operating between the same heat
reservoirs are equally efficient. Thus, a heat engine operating between T1 and T3 must
have the same efficiency as one consisting of two cycles, one between T1 and T2, and the
second between T2 and T3. This can only be the case if:

which implies:
q13 = f(T1,T3) = f(T1,T2)f(T2,T3)
Since the first function is independent of T2, this temperature must cancel on the right
side, meaning f(T1,T3) is of the form g(T1)/g(T3) (i.e. f(T1,T3) = f(T1,T2)f(T2,T3) =
g(T1)/g(T2)g(T2)/g(T3) = g(T1)/g(T3)), where g is a function of a single temperature. We
can now choose a temperature scale with the property that:

Substituting Equation 3 back into Equation 1 gives a relationship for the efficiency in
terms of temperature:

Notice that for TC=0 K the efficiency is 100% and that efficiency becomes greater than
100% below 0 K. Since an efficiency greater than 100% violates the first law of
thermodynamics, this implies that 0 K is the minimum possible temperature. In fact the
lowest temperature so far obtained in a macroscopic system was 20 nK, which was
achieved in 1995 at NIST. Subtracting the right hand side of Equation 4 from the middle
portion and rearranging gives:

where the negative sign indicates heat ejected from the system. This relationship suggests
the existence of a state function, S, defined by:

where the subscript indicates a reversible process. The change of this state function
around any cycle is zero, as is necessary for any state function. This function corresponds
to the entropy of the system, which we described previously. We can rearranging
Equation 5 to get a new definition for temperature in terms of entropy and heat:

For a system, where entropy S may be a function S(E) of its energy E, the
thermodynamic termperature T is given by:

The reciprocal of the thermodynamic termperature is the rate of increase of entropy with
Absolute temperature
n. (Abbr. T)
Temperature measured in kelvin from absolute zero.
The noun absolute temperature has one meaning:
Meaning #1: temperature measured on the absolute scale (the International Practical
Scale of Temperature)