Issue 4, 2015

Topological energy storage of work generated by nanomotors


Most macroscopic machines rely on wheels and gears. Yet, rigid gears are entirely impractical on the nano-scale. Here we propose a more useful method to couple any rotary engine to any other mechanical elements on the nano- and micro-scale. We argue that a rotary molecular motor attached to an entangled polymer energy storage unit, which together form what we call the “tanglotron” device, is a viable concept that can be experimentally implemented. We derive the torque–entanglement relationship for a tanglotron (its “equation of state”) and show that it can be understood by simple statistical mechanics arguments. We find that a typical entanglement at low packing density costs around 6kT. In the high entanglement regime, the free energy diverges logarithmically close to a maximal geometric packing density. We outline several promising applications of the tanglotron idea and conclude that the transmission, storage and back-conversion of topological entanglement energy are not only physically feasible but also practical for a number of reasons.

Graphical abstract: Topological energy storage of work generated by nanomotors

Article information

Article type
18 Oct 2014
26 Nov 2014
First published
08 Dec 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2015,11, 732-740

Topological energy storage of work generated by nanomotors

F. Weysser, O. Benzerara, A. Johner and I. M. Kulić, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 732 DOI: 10.1039/C4SM02294G

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