A cornerstone of the nanotechnological revolution of the twenty-first century is the human aspiration to build nano devices that can match cellular machinery. However, for reasons that remain poorly understood, biological machines existing in nature significantly outperform artificially manufactured nano-devices, often by many orders of magnitude. Our current understanding of why bio-molecular motors are so efficient despite being invariably swamped by surrounding incessant thermal Brownian fluctuations is that, counter-intuitively, they seem capable of harnessing energy from the random noise/fluctuations. Cold atoms confined in dissipative optical lattices offer, by far, the most amenable architecture for elucidating the physical mechanisms by which biological machines convert random thermal fluctuations to useful work. The continual scattering of photons replicates Brownian collisions in the bio-molecular motor.
Here, we propose to use dissipative dilutely occupied cold atom optical lattices to experimentally simulate bio-molecular motors in order to elucidate the basic underlying mechanisms behind Brownian ratchets. We show that paring down the complicated problem of bio-molecular motors to an interplay between three frequencies in our optical lattice simulator - the intrawell oscillation frequency of an atom, the driving frequency modulating the lattice, and the photon scattering rate - may permit access to the rich field of resonance physics where effects such as "stochastic resonance" may be exploited to create efficient nano devices.