Statistical Physics: Ensembles

Ensembles

As a system is defined by the collection of a large number of particles, so the “ensembles” can be defined as a collection of a number macroscopically identical but essentially independent systems. Here the term macroscopically identical means, as, each of the systems constituting an ensemble satisfies the same macroscopic conditions, like Volume, Energy, Pressure, Temperature and Total number of particles etc. Here again, the term essentially independent means the system (in the ensemble) being mutually non-interacting to others, i.e., the systems differ in microscopic conditions like parity, symmetry, quantum states etc.

There are three types of ensembles:

  1. Micro-canonical Ensemble
  2. Canonical Ensemble
  3. Grand Canonical Ensemble

Micro-canonical Ensemble

It is the collection of a large number of essentially independent systems having the same energy E, volume V and total number of particles N.

The systems of a micro-canonical ensemble are separated by rigid impermeable and insulated walls, such that the values of E, V & N are not affected by the mutual pressure of other systems.

This ensemble is as shown in the figure below.

Here all the borders are impermeable and insulated.

Ensembles, Image, Gaurav Tiwari

Canonical Ensemble

It’s the collection of a large number of essentially independent systems having the same temperature T, volume V and the number of particles N.

The equality of temperature of all the systems can be achieved by bringing all the systems in thermal contact. Hence, in this ensemble the systems are separated by rigid impermeable but conducting walls, the outer walls of the ensemble are perfectly insulated and impermeable though.

This ensemble is as shown in the figure:

Ensembles, Image, Gaurav Tiwari

Here, the borders in bold shade are both insulated and impermeable while the borders in light shade are conducting and impermeable.

Grand Canonical Ensemble

It is the collection of a large number of essentially independent systems having the same temperature T, volume V & chemical potential μ.

The systems of a grand canonical ensemble are separated by rigid permeable and conducting walls. This ensemble is as shown in the figure:

Ensembles, Image, Gaurav Tiwari

Here inner borders are rigid, permeable and conducting while outer borders are impermeable as well as insulated. As the inner separating walls are conducting and permeable, the exchange of heat energy as well as that of particles between the system takes place, in such a way that all the systems achieve the same common temperature T and chemical potential μ.

Ensemble Average

Every statistical quantity has not an exact but an approximate value. The average of a statistical quantity during motion is equal to its ensemble average.

If R(x) be a statistical quantity along x-axis and N(x) be the number of phase points in phase space, then the ensemble average of the statistical quantity R is defined as,

$ \bar{R} := \dfrac{\int_{-\infty}^{\infty} R(x) N(x) \mathrm{d} x}{\int_{-\infty}^{\infty} N(x) \mathrm{d} x}$

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11 comments add your comment

  1. “Here the term macroscopically independent means” in this sentence isn’t it “macroscopically identical” ?

  2. “Here the term macroscopically independent means” in this sentence isn’t it “macroscopically identical” ?

  3. i was not able to find the exact understating of ensemble any where.
    thankyou gaurav

  4. i was not able to find the exact understating of ensemble any where.
    thankyou gaurav

  5. nicely explained…!!!
    require to explain mathematical expressions..
    thank u. :)

  6. Thanks, sir that is nice explanation about ensemble. I have read your explanation and understood all of thins about Ensemble.

  7. Great work brother hope this will help many more students to learn and understand these things clearly

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