Information erasure without an energy cost

Joan A. Vaccaro, Stephen M. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


Landauer argued that the process of erasing the information stored in a memory device incurs an energy cost in the form of a minimum amount of mechanical work. We find, however, that this energy cost can be reduced to zero by paying a cost in angular momentum or any other conserved quantity. Erasing the memory of Maxwell's demon in this way implies that work can be extracted from a single thermal reservoir at a cost of angular momentum and an increase in total entropy. The implications of this for the second law of thermodynamics are assessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1770-1778
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2130
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2011


  • information erasure
  • thermodynamics
  • canonical ensemble
  • spin system

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