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  • Define entropy.
Photograph shows a glass of a beverage with ice cubes and a straw, placed on a paper napkin on the table. There is a piece of sliced lemon at the edge of the glass. There is condensate around the outside surface of the glass, giving the appearance that the ice is melting.
The ice in this drink is slowly melting. Eventually the liquid will reach thermal equilibrium, as predicted by the second law of thermodynamics. (credit: Jon Sullivan, PDPhoto.org)

There is yet another way of expressing the second law of thermodynamics. This version relates to a concept called entropy    . By examining it, we shall see that the directions associated with the second law—heat transfer from hot to cold, for example—are related to the tendency in nature for systems to become disordered and for less energy to be available for use as work. The entropy of a system can in fact be shown to be a measure of its disorder and of the unavailability of energy to do work.

Making connections: entropy, energy, and work

Recall that the simple definition of energy is the ability to do work. Entropy is a measure of how much energy is not available to do work. Although all forms of energy are interconvertible, and all can be used to do work, it is not always possible, even in principle, to convert the entire available energy into work. That unavailable energy is of interest in thermodynamics, because the field of thermodynamics arose from efforts to convert heat to work.

For any reversible process, the ratio of Q / T size 12{Q/T} {} is defined to be the change in entropy     Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} for a reversible process,

Δ S = Q T rev , size 12{DS= left ( { {Q} over {T} } right ) rSub { size 8{"rev"} } } {}

where Q size 12{Q} {} is the heat transfer, which is positive for heat transfer into and negative for heat transfer out of, and T size 12{T} {} is the absolute temperature at which the reversible process takes place. The SI unit for entropy is joules per kelvin (J/K). If temperature changes during the process, then it is usually a good approximation (for small changes in temperature) to take T size 12{T} {} to be the average temperature, avoiding the need to use integral calculus to find Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} .

The definition of Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} is strictly valid only for reversible processes. However, we can find Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} precisely even for real, irreversible processes. The reason is that the entropy S size 12{S} {} of a system, like internal energy U size 12{U} {} , depends only on the state of the system and not how it reached that condition. Entropy is a property of state. Thus the change in entropy Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} of a system between state 1 and state 2 is the same no matter how the change occurs. We just need to find or imagine a reversible process that takes us from state 1 to state 2 and calculate Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} for that process. That will be the change in entropy for any process going from state 1 to state 2. (See [link] .)

The diagram shows a schematic representation of a system that goes from state one with entropy S sub one to state two with entropy S sub two. The two states are shown as two circles drawn a distance apart. Two arrows represent two different processes to take the system from state one to state two. A straight arrow pointing from state one to state two shows a reversible process. The change in entropy for this process is given by delta S equals Q divided by T. The second process is marked as a curving arrow from state one to state two, showing an irreversible process. The change in entropy for this process is given by delta S sub irreversible equals delta S sub reversible equals S sub two minus S sub one.
When a system goes from state 1 to state 2, its entropy changes by the same amount Δ S size 12{ΔS} {} , whether a hypothetical reversible path is followed or a real irreversible path is taken.

It is reasonable that entropy increases for heat transfer from hot to cold. Since the change in entropy is Q / T size 12{Q/T} {} , there is a larger change at lower temperatures. The decrease in entropy of the hot object is therefore less than the increase in entropy of the cold object, producing an overall increase. This result is very general:

There is an increase in entropy for any system undergoing an irreversible process.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of physics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 25, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11738/1.5
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