Since its origin in the nineteenth century, the science of thermodynamics has been concerned with the transformations of energy and its unavoidable dissipation into heat according to thermodynamics’ first (conservation) and second (entropy) laws. Also since its inception, thermodynamics has focused on phenomena taking place at or near equilibrium in energetically isolated systems. A new development occurred however in the second half of the twentieth century with the rise of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics, especially through the pioneering work of Ilya Prigogine (Nobel Prize 1977) on the evolution of dissipative structures in systems open to energy fluxes.
These structures are characterized by:
An extensive and technically accessible overview of the field.
Some current treatments with extensive bibliographies: