Asymmetric Brownian motor driven by bubble formation in a hydrophobic channel

Noriyoshi Arai, Kenji Yasuoka, Takahiro Koishi, Toshikazu Ebisuzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The "asymmetric Brownian ratchet model" is a variation of Feynman's ratchet and pawl system proposed. In this model, a system consisting of a motor and a rail has two binding states. One is the random Brownian state, and the other is the asymmetric potential state. When the system is alternatively switched between these states, the motor can be driven in one direction. This model is believed to explain nanomotor behavior in biological systems. The feasibility of the model has been demonstrated using electrical and magnetic forces; however, switching of these forces is unlikely to be found in biological systems. In this paper, we propose an original mechanism of transition between states by bubble formation in a nanosized channel surrounded by hydrophobic atoms. This amounts to a nanoscale motor system using bubble propulsion. The motor system consists of a hydrophobic motor and a rail on which hydrophobic patterns are printed. Potential asymmetry can be produced by using a left-right asymmetric pattern shape. Hydrophobic interactions are believed to play an important role in the binding of biomolecules and molecular recognition. The bubble formation is controlled by changing the width of the channel by an atomic distance (∼0.1 nm). Therefore, the motor is potentially more efficient than systems controlled by other forces, in which a much larger change in the motor position is necessary. We have simulated the bubble-powered motor using dissipative particle dynamics and found behavior in good agreement with that of motor proteins. Energy efficiency is as high as 60%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5905-5913
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Oct 26


  • Brownian ratchet
  • bubble formation
  • dissipative particle dynamics
  • hydrophobic pattern
  • molecular motor
  • nanosized channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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