Performance characteristics of an irreversible thermally driven Brownian microscopic heat engine

  • Y. Zhang
  • B. H. Lin
  • J. C. ChenEmail author
Statistical and Nonlinear Physics


Brownian particles moving in a spatially asymmetric but periodic potential (ratchet), with an external load force and connected to an alternating hot and cold reservoir, are modeled as a microscopic heat engine, referred to as the Brownian heat engine. The heat flow via both the potential energy and the kinetic energy of the particles are considered simultaneously. The forward and backward particle currents are determined using an Arrhenius' factor. Expressions for the power output and efficiency are derived analytically. The maximum power output and efficiency are calculated. It is expounded that the Brownian heat engine is always irreversible and its efficiency cannot approach the efficiency ηC of the Carnot heat engine even in quasistatic limit. The influence of the main parameters such as the load, the barrier height of the potential, the asymmetry of the potential and the temperature ratio of the heat reservoirs on the performance of the Brownian heat engine is discussed in detail. It is found that the Brownian heat engines may be controlled to operate in different regions through variation of some parameters.


05.40.Jc Brownian motion 05.70.-a Thermodynamics 05.60.-k Transport processes 


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© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsXiamen UniversityXiamenP.R. China
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryXiamen UniversityXiamenP.R. China
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsQuanzhouP.R. China

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