Molecular motor with a built-in escapement device

G. Oshanin*, J. Klafter, M. Urbakh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the dynamics of a classical particle in a one-dimensional potential composed of two identical spatially periodic components, one of which is externally driven by a random force. We demonstrate that, under certain conditions, the particle may move unidirectionally with a constant velocity, despite the fact that the average external force is zero. We show that the physical mechanism underlying such a phenomenon resembles the work of an escapement-type device in watches; upon reaching a certain level, random fluctuations exercise a locking function creating points of irreversibility which the particle cannot overpass. Repeated (randomly) in each cycle, this results in a saltatory ballistic-type motion. In the overdamped limit, we work out simple analytical estimates for the particle's terminal velocity. Our analytical results are in a very good agreement with Monte Carlo results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalEurophysics Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2004


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