Office Phone: 301-405-4439
 Office Address: CHEM 2203

Distinguished University Professor


  • A. B., Physics (with high honors), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ–1987
  • Ph. D., Physics, University of California, Berkeley–1994
  • Institute for Nuclear Theory, University of Washington, Postdoc–1994-1996
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Postdoc–1996-1999

Professional Experience

  • Technical Staff Member, Los Alamos National Laboratory 1999-2006
  • Associate Professor (with tenure), University of Maryland, 2006-2010
  • Professor, University of Maryland 2010-present
  • Director, Institute for Physical Science and Technology, UMD 2014-present

Research Interests

My research group and I focus on statistical mechanics and thermodynamics at the molecular level, with a particular focus on the foundations of nonequilibrium thermodynamics. We have worked on topics that include the application of statistical mechanics to problems of biophysical interest; the analysis of artificial molecular machines; the development of efficient numerical schemes for estimating thermodynamic properties of complex systems; the relationship between thermodynamics and information processing; quantum and classical shortcuts to adiabaticity; and quantum thermodynamics.

Major Recognitions and Awards

  • Fulbright Fellowship, Warsaw, Poland 1987-1988
  • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences Tel Aviv, Israel 2005
  • Outstanding Referee for American Physical Society Journals 2009
  • Fellow, American Physical Society 2009
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2016

Significant Professional Services and Activities

  • American Chemical Society, American Physical Society
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, 2008-present
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Statistical Physics, 2008-2010
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Statistical Physics, 2011-present


Six postdocs, ten graduate students and four undergraduate students mentored at the University of Maryland (since 2006).


In the Jarzynski group, we develop theoretical tools for understanding nonequilibrium behavior, and computational methods for estimating thermodynamic properties, and we construct and analyze simple models that provide insight into complex phenomena. More recently, our group has investigated topics related to quantum dynamics and thermodynamics. The following descriptions provide a flavor of the research that goes on in our group.

Nonequilibrium work and fluctuation relations

While the laws of thermodynamics were developed nearly two centuries ago to describe macroscopic systems such as steam engines, recently there has been considerable interest and exciting progress in understanding how these laws apply to nanoscale systems, especially in situations far from thermal equilibrium. At microscopic length scales, random fluctuations due to thermal noise are prevalent, and together with colleagues around the world we investigate the universal laws that govern these fluctuations. For a recent review of some of this progress, click here.1

Thermodynamics of information processing

This topic dates back to the “Maxwell’s demon” thought experiment described by James Clerk Maxwell in 1867. Recent years have seen renewed interest in the thermodynamic consequences of information processing, leading to new theoretical and experimental progress. In our group we have investigated the interplay between information processing and the second law of thermodynamics, and we have introduced a number of simple, and in some cases exactly solvable models that illustrate how a mechanical Maxwell’s demon might operate. For an example, click here.2

Shortcuts to adiabaticity

The quantum adiabatic theorem provides a powerful tool for controlling the evolution of a quantum system, as long as we act on it very slowly. Shortcuts to adiabaticity are tools that give us the same degree of control, without the requirement of slow driving. We have investigated a novel approach for constructing quantal shortcuts by means of their classical counterparts. Click here 3 for an example of our research in this area.

1. C. Jarzynski, “Equalities and inequalities: Irreversibility and the second law of thermodynamics at the nanoscale”, Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 2:329-51 (2011).

2. Z. Lu, D. Mandal and C. Jarzynski, “Engineering Maxwell’s demon”, Physics Today 67 (8), 60 (August, 2014).

3. S. Deffner, C. Jarzynski and A. del Campo, “Classical and Quantum Shortcuts to Adiabaticity for Scale-Invariant Driving, Phys. Rev. X 4, 021013 (2014).

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