Volume 82, Number 5, June 2008
Article Number 50008
Number of page(s) 5
Section General
Published online 30 May 2008
EPL, 82 (2008) 50008
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/82/50008

Noise rectification and fluctuations of an asymmetric inelastic piston

G. Costantini1, U. Marini Bettolo Marconi1 and A. Puglisi2

1  Università di Camerino, Dipartimento di Fisica - Via Madonna delle Carceri, I-62032 Camerino, Italy, EU
2  Università di Roma "La Sapienza", CNISM and Dipartimento di Fisica - p.le Aldo Moro 2, I-00185 Roma, Italy, EU

received 16 January 2008; accepted in final form 19 April 2008; published June 2008
published online 30 May 2008

We consider a massive inelastic piston, whose opposite faces have different coefficients of restitution, moving under the action of an infinitely dilute gas of hard disks maintained at a fixed temperature. The dynamics of the piston is Markovian and obeys a continuous Master Equation: however, the asymmetry of restitution coefficients induces a violation of detailed balance and a net drift of the piston, as in a Brownian ratchet. Numerical investigations of such non-equilibrium stationary state show that the velocity fluctuations of the piston are symmetric around the mean value only in the limit of large piston mass, while they are strongly asymmetric in the opposite limit. Only taking into account such an asymmetry, i.e. including a third parameter in addition to the mean and the variance of the velocity distribution, it is possible to obtain a satisfactory analytical prediction for the ratchet drift velocity.

05.40.-a - Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brownian motion.
05.70.Ln - Nonequilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics.
45.70.-n - Granular systems.

© EPLA 2008