Observation of flux reversal in a symmetric optical thermal ratchet

Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Mar 25;94(11):110601. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.94.110601. Epub 2005 Mar 22.


We demonstrate that a cycle of three holographic optical trapping patterns can implement a thermal ratchet for diffusing colloidal spheres and that the ratchet-driven transport displays flux reversal as a function of the cycle frequency and the intertrap separation. Unlike previously described ratchet models, the approach we describe involves three equivalent states, each of which is locally and globally spatially symmetric, with spatiotemporal symmetry being broken by the sequence of states.