American Institute of Physics Publishing
Journal of Chemical Physics
Electron ratchets are non-equilibrium electronic devices that break inversion symmetry to produce currents from non-directional and random perturbations, without an applied net bias. They are characterized by strong parameter dependence, where small changes in operating conditions lead to large changes in the magnitude and even direction of the resulting current. This high sensitivity makes electron ratchets attractive research subjects, but leads to formidable challenges in their deeper study, and particularly to their useful application. This perspective reviews the progress that was made in the field starting from the first experimental electron ratchets in the late 1990s, and how the field spawned multiple designs with very different properties. We discuss the possible uses of electron ratchets in sensing and energy harvesting, and the specific issues encountered when idealized behavior meets complex reality. We promote an application-driven approach where complexity is not necessarily detrimental and argue that a system level perspective would be beneficial over reductionism. We highlight several promising research directions, which revolve around the intentional study of complex effects, and the modeling of realistic devices.
Lau, Bryan and Kedem, Ofer, "Electron Ratchets: State of the Field and Future Challenges" (2020). Chemistry Faculty Research and Publications. 1010.
ADA Accessible Version