A minimal model of an autonomous thermal motor.
We consider a model of a Brownian motor composed of two coupled overdamped degrees of freedom moving in periodic potentials and driven by two heat reservoirs. This model exhibits a spontaneous breaking of symmetry and gives rise to directed transport in the case of a non- vanishing interparticle interaction strength. For strong coupling between the particles we derive an expression for the propagation velocity valid for arbitrary periodic potentials. In the limit of strong coupling the model is equivalent to the B\"uttiker-Landauer model [1-3] for a single particle diffusing in an environment with position dependent temperature. By using numerical calculations of the Fokker-Planck equation and simulations of the Langevin equations we study the model for arbitrary coupling, retrieving many features of the strong coupling limit. In particular, directed transport emerges even for symmetric potentials. For distinct heat reservoirs the heat currents are well-defined quantities allowing a study of the motor efficiency. We show that the optimal working regime occurs for moderate coupling. Finally, we introduce a model with discrete phase space which captures the essential features of the continuous model, can be solved in the limit of weak coupling, and exhibits a larger efficiency than the continuous counterpart.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1707.01070
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