Wet granular walkers and climbers

Z. S. Khan, A. Steinberger, R. Seemann, S. Herminghaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mechanisms of locomotion in microscopic systems are of great interest not only for technological applications but also for the sake of understanding, and potentially harnessing, processes far from thermal equilibrium. Downscaling is a particular challenge and has led to a number of interesting concepts, including thermal ratchet systems and asymmetric swimmers. Here we present a granular ratchet system employing a particularly robust mechanism that can be implemented in various settings. The system consists of wetted spheres of different sizes that adhere to each other, and are subject to a symmetric oscillating, zero average external force field. An inherent asymmetry in the mutual force network leads to force rectification and hence to locomotion. We present a simple model that accounts for the observed behaviour, underscores its robustness and suggests a potential scalability of the concept.

Original languageEnglish
Article number053041
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - May 2011


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