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An introduction to the physics of the bacterial flagellar motor: a nanoscale rotary electric motor

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Biological molecular motors show us how directed motion can be generated by nanometre-scale devices that work at the energy scale of the thermal bath. Direct and indirect observations of functioning single molecule motors allow us to see fundamental processes of statistical physics unfolding in microscopic detail at room temperature, something that was unimaginable only a few decades ago. In this review, we introduce molecular motors and the physics relevant to their mechanisms before focusing on our recent experiments on the bacterial flagellar motor, the rotary device responsible for bacterial locomotion.

Keywords: biological molecular motors; nanometre-scale devices

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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