Directed transport of two interacting particles in a washboard potential

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We study the conservative and deterministic dynamics of two nonlinearly interacting particles evolving in a one-dimensional spatially periodic washboard potential. A weak tilt of the washboard potential is applied biasing one direction for particle transport. However, the tilt vanishes asymptotically in the direction of bias. Moreover, the total energy content is not enough for both particles to be able to escape simultaneously from an initial potential well; to achieve transport the coupled particles need to interact cooperatively. For low coupling strength the two particles remain trapped inside the starting potential well permanently. For increased coupling strength there exists a regime in which one of the particles transfers the majority of its energy to the other one, as a consequence of which the latter escapes from the potential well and the bond between them breaks. Finally, for suitably large couplings, coordinated energy exchange between the particles allows them to achieve escapes — one particle followed by the other — from consecutive potential wells resulting in directed collective motion. The key mechanism of transport rectification is based on the asymptotically vanishing tilt causing a symmetry breaking of the non-chaotic fraction of the dynamics in the mixed phase space. That is, after a chaotic transient, only at one of the boundaries of the chaotic layer do resonance islands appear. The settling of trajectories in the ballistic channels associated with transporting islands provides long-range directed transport dynamics of the escaping dimer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2273-2281
Number of pages9
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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