Organic electronic ratchets doing work

E.M. Roeling, W.C. Germs, B. Smalbrugge, E.J. Geluk, T. Vries, de, R.A.J. Janssen, M. Kemerink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


The possibility to extract work from periodic, undirected forces has intrigued scientists for over a century—in particular, the rectification of undirected motion of particles by ratchet potentials, which are periodic but asymmetric functions. Introduced by Smoluchowski and Feynman1, 2 to study the (dis)ability to generate motion from an equilibrium situation, ratchets operate out of equilibrium, where the second law of thermodynamics no longer applies. Although ratchet systems have been both identified in nature3, 4 and used in the laboratory for the directed motion of microscopic objects5, 6, 7, 8, 9, electronic ratchets10, 11, 12, 13 have been of limited use, as they typically operate at cryogenic temperatures and generate subnanoampere currents and submillivolt voltages10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Here, we present organic electronic ratchets that operate up to radio frequencies at room temperature and generate currents and voltages that are orders of magnitude larger. This enables their use as a d.c. power source. We integrated the ratchets into logic circuits, in which they act as the d.c. equivalent of the a.c. transformer, and generate enough power to drive the circuitry. Our findings show that electronic ratchets may be of actual use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-55
Number of pages4
JournalNature Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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