Continuum solution of a many-filament Brownian ratchet

Statistical Physics and Complexity Group meeting

Continuum solution of a many-filament Brownian ratchet

  • Event time: 11:30am until 12:30pm
  • Event date: 20th February 2019
  • Speaker: Anthony Wood (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

I will present a derivation of a two-filament Brownian ratchet in continuous space, that generalises to N filaments. Here, two inhomogeneous filaments grow and contract, and interact with a drift-diffusing membrane by exclusion. This system approaches a steady state whereby the membrane has a net drift over time induced by a `ratcheting' mechanism. By taking the continuum limit of a more intuitive lattice-based system, I derive and solve a diffusion equation and set of boundary conditions for this system, and calculate the steady state velocity of the system as a function of the filament and membrane properties.

This derivation in fact generalises to an arbitrary number of filaments, as well as when there are additional restoring forces between filaments and membrane, or between neighbouring filaments. From this, we can draw parallels between this system and the dynamics of actin filament networks that move the leading edge of eukaryotic cells.