Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 3, 2017
Previous Article Next Article

An introduction to ratchets in chemistry and biology

Author affiliations


This article is an accessible introduction to ratchets and their potential uses. A ratchet can dramatically improve directional transport of classical or quantum particles in systems that are dominated by random diffusion. The key idea is that ratchets do not overcome poor conductivity with strong gradients, but rather use non-directional sources of energy like heat or chemical energy to power unidirectional transport, making the ratchet a Maxwell's demon. We introduce the ratchet concept and its inspiration from biology, discuss the terminology used in the field, and examine current progress and ideas in ratcheting electrons and classical particles.

Graphical abstract: An introduction to ratchets in chemistry and biology

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 02 Feb 2017, accepted on 13 Feb 2017 and first published on 17 Feb 2017

Article type: Focus
DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00062F
Citation: Mater. Horiz., 2017,4, 310-318

  •   Request permissions

    An introduction to ratchets in chemistry and biology

    B. Lau, O. Kedem, J. Schwabacher, D. Kwasnieski and E. A. Weiss, Mater. Horiz., 2017, 4, 310
    DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00062F

Search articles by author