Nanoscale swimmers: Hydrodynamic interactions and propulsion of molecular machines

T. Sakaue, R. Kapral, A. S. Mikhailov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Molecular machines execute nearly regular cyclic conformational changes as a result of ligand binding and product release. This cyclic conformational dynamics is generally non-reciprocal so that under time reversal a different sequence of machine conformations is visited. Since such changes occur in a solvent, coupling to solvent hydrodynamic modes will generally result in self-propulsion of the molecular machine. These effects are investigated for a class of coarse grained models of protein machines consisting of a set of beads interacting through pair-wise additive potentials. Hydrodynamic effects are incorporated through a configuration-dependent mobility tensor, and expressions for the propulsion linear and angular velocities, as well as the stall force, are obtained. In the limit where conformational changes are small so that linear response theory is applicable, it is shown that propulsion is exponentially small; thus, propulsion is nonlinear phenomenon. The results are illustrated by computations on a simple model molecular machine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Physical Journal B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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