The standard approach to deriving fluctuation theorems fails to capture the effect of quantum correlation and coherence in the initial state of the system. Here, we overcome this difficulty and derive the heat-exchange-fluctuation theorem in the full quantum regime by showing that the energy exchange between two locally thermal states in the presence of initial quantum correlations is faithfully captured by a quasiprobability distribution. Its negativities, being associated with proofs of contextuality, are proxies of nonclassicality. We discuss the thermodynamic interpretation of negative probabilities and provide heat-flow inequalities that can only be violated in their presence. Remarkably, testing these fully quantum inequalities, at an arbitrary dimension, is no more difficult than testing traditional fluctuation theorems. We test these results on data collected in a recent experiment studying the heat transfer between two qubits and give examples for the capability of witnessing negative probabilities at higher dimensions.
A Levy and M Lostaglio, PRX Quantum 1 (1), 010309