Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics ( IF 14.833 ) Pub Date : 2017-03-31 00:00:00 , DOI: 10.1146/annurev-conmatphys-031016-025522 C.J. Olson Reichhardt, C. Reichhardt
Ratchet effects can arise for single or collectively interacting Brownian particles on an asymmetric substrate when a net dc transport is produced by an externally applied ac driving force or by periodically flashing the substrate. Recently, a new class of active ratchet systems that do not require the application of external driving has been realized through the use of active matter; they are self-propelled units that can be biological or nonbiological in nature. When active materials such as swimming bacteria interact with an asymmetric substrate, a net dc directed motion can arise even without external driving, opening a wealth of possibilities such as sorting, cargo transport, or micromachine construction. We review the current status of active matter ratchets for swimming bacteria, cells, active colloids, and swarming models, focusing on the role of particle-substrate interactions. We describe ratchet reversals produced by collective effects and the use of active ratchets to transport passive particles. We discuss future directions including deformable substrates or particles, the role of different swimming modes, varied particle–particle interactions, and nondissipative effects.