Statistical Physics

Emergence of large-scale vorticity during diffusion in a random potential under an alternating bias

Conventional wisdom indicates that the presence of an alternating driving force will not change the longterm behavior of a Brownian particle moving in a random potential. Although this is true in one dimension, here we offer direct evidence that the inevitable local symmetry breaking present in a two-dimensional random potential leads to the emergence of a local ratchet effect that generates large-scale vorticity patterns consisting of steady-state net diffusive currents. For small fields the spatial correlation function of the current follows a logarithmic distance dependence, while for large external fields both the vorticity and the correlations gradually disappear. We uncover the scaling laws characterizing this unique pattern formation process, and discuss their potential relevance to real systems.


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R. J. Williams, N. D. Martinez, E. L. Berlow, J. A. Dunne, A.-L. Barabási

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