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#### Institute

In various biological systems and small scale technological applications particles transiently bind to a cylindrical surface. Upon unbinding the particles diffuse in the vicinal bulk before rebinding to the surface. Such bulk-mediated excursions give rise to an effective surface translation, for which we here derive and discuss the dynamic equations, including additional surface diffusion. We discuss the time evolution of the number of surface-bound particles, the effective surface mean squared displacement, and the surface propagator. In particular, we observe sub- and superdiffusive regimes. A plateau of the surface mean-squared displacement reflects a stalling of the surface diffusion at longer times. Finally, the corresponding first passage problem for the cylindrical geometry is analysed.

Modern microscopic techniques following the stochastic motion of labelled tracer particles have uncovered significant deviations from the laws of Brownian motion in a variety of animate and inanimate systems. Such anomalous diffusion can have different physical origins, which can be identified from careful data analysis. In particular, single particle tracking provides the entire trajectory of the traced particle, which allows one to evaluate different observables to quantify the dynamics of the system under observation. We here provide an extensive overview over different popular anomalous diffusion models and their properties. We pay special attention to their ergodic properties, highlighting the fact that in several of these models the long time averaged mean squared displacement shows a distinct disparity to the regular, ensemble averaged mean squared displacement. In these cases, data obtained from time averages cannot be interpreted by the standard theoretical results for the ensemble averages. Here we therefore provide a comparison of the main properties of the time averaged mean squared displacement and its statistical behaviour in terms of the scatter of the amplitudes between the time averages obtained from different trajectories. We especially demonstrate how anomalous dynamics may be identified for systems, which, on first sight, appear to be Brownian. Moreover, we discuss the ergodicity breaking parameters for the different anomalous stochastic processes and showcase the physical origins for the various behaviours. This Perspective is intended as a guidebook for both experimentalists and theorists working on systems, which exhibit anomalous diffusion.

Anomalous diffusion is frequently described by scaled Brownian motion (SBM), a Gaussian process with a power-law time dependent diffusion coefficient. Its mean squared displacement is < x(2)(t) similar or equal to 2K(t)t with K(t) similar or equal to t(alpha-1) for 0 < alpha < 2. SBM may provide a seemingly adequate description in the case of unbounded diffusion, for which its probability density function coincides with that of fractional Brownian motion. Here we show that free SBM is weakly non-ergodic but does not exhibit a significant amplitude scatter of the time averaged mean squared displacement. More severely, we demonstrate that under confinement, the dynamics encoded by SBM is fundamentally different from both fractional Brownian motion and continuous time random walks. SBM is highly non-stationary and cannot provide a physical description for particles in a thermalised stationary system. Our findings have direct impact on the modelling of single particle tracking experiments, in particular, under confinement inside cellular compartments or when optical tweezers tracking methods are used.

Diffusion of finite-size particles in two-dimensional channels with random wall configurations
(2014)

Diffusion of chemicals or tracer molecules through complex systems containing irregularly shaped channels is important in many applications. Most theoretical studies based on the famed Fick-Jacobs equation focus on the idealised case of infinitely small particles and reflecting boundaries. In this study we use numerical simulations to consider the transport of finite-size particles through asymmetrical two-dimensional channels. Additionally, we examine transient binding of the molecules to the channel walls by applying sticky boundary conditions. We consider an ensemble of particles diffusing in independent channels, which are characterised by common structural parameters. We compare our results for the long-time effective diffusion coefficient with a recent theoretical formula obtained by Dagdug and Pineda

We consider diffusion processes with a spatially varying diffusivity giving rise to anomalous diffusion. Such heterogeneous diffusion processes are analysed for the cases of exponential, power-law, and logarithmic dependencies of the diffusion coefficient on the particle position. Combining analytical approaches with stochastic simulations, we show that the functional form of the space-dependent diffusion coefficient and the initial conditions of the diffusing particles are vital for their statistical and ergodic properties. In all three cases a weak ergodicity breaking between the time and ensemble averaged mean squared displacements is observed. We also demonstrate a population splitting of the time averaged traces into fast and slow diffusers for the case of exponential variation of the diffusivity as well as a particle trapping in the case of the logarithmic diffusivity. Our analysis is complemented by the quantitative study of the space coverage, the diffusive spreading of the probability density, as well as the survival probability.

Brownianmotion is ergodic in the Boltzmann–Khinchin sense that long time averages of physical observables such as the mean squared displacement provide the same information as the corresponding ensemble average, even at out-of-equilibrium conditions. This property is the fundamental prerequisite for single particle tracking and its analysis in simple liquids. We study analytically and by event-driven molecular dynamics simulations the dynamics of force-free cooling granular gases and reveal a violation of ergodicity in this Boltzmann–
Khinchin sense as well as distinct ageing of the system. Such granular gases comprise materials such as dilute gases of stones, sand, various types of powders, or large molecules, and their mixtures are ubiquitous in Nature and technology, in particular in Space. We treat—depending on the physical-chemical properties of the inter-particle interaction upon their pair collisions—both a constant and a velocity-dependent (viscoelastic) restitution coefficient e. Moreover we compare the granular gas dynamics with an effective single particle stochastic model based on an underdamped Langevin equation with time dependent diffusivity. We find that both models share the same behaviour of the ensemble mean squared displacement (MSD) and the velocity correlations in the limit of weak dissipation. Qualitatively, the reported non-ergodic behaviour is generic for granular gases with any realistic dependence of e on the impact velocity of particles.

Brownianmotion is ergodic in the Boltzmann–Khinchin sense that long time averages of physical observables such as the mean squared displacement provide the same information as the corresponding ensemble average, even at out-of-equilibrium conditions. This property is the fundamental prerequisite for single particle tracking and its analysis in simple liquids. We study analytically and by event-driven molecular dynamics simulations the dynamics of force-free cooling granular gases and reveal a violation of ergodicity in this Boltzmann-Khinchin sense as well as distinct ageing of the system. Such granular gases comprise materials such as dilute gases of stones, sand, various types of powders, or large molecules, and their mixtures are ubiquitous in Nature and technology, in particular in Space. We treat—depending on the physical-chemical properties of the inter-particle interaction upon their pair collisions—both a constant and a velocity-dependent
(viscoelastic) restitution coefficient e. Moreover we compare the granular gas dynamics with an effective single particle stochastic model based on an underdamped Langevin equation with time dependent diffusivity. We find that both models share the same behaviour of the ensemble mean squared displacement (MSD) and the velocity correlations in the limit of weak dissipation. Qualitatively, the reported non-ergodic behaviour is generic for granular gases with any realistic dependence of e on the impact velocity of particles.

We investigate the ergodic properties of a random walker performing (anomalous) diffusion on a random fractal geometry. Extensive Monte Carlo simulations of the motion of tracer particles on an ensemble of realisations of percolation clusters are performed for a wide range of percolation densities. Single trajectories of the tracer motion are analysed to quantify the time averaged mean squared displacement (MSD) and to compare this with the ensemble averaged MSD of the particle motion. Other complementary physical observables associated with ergodicity are studied, as well. It turns out that the time averaged MSD of individual realisations exhibits non-vanishing fluctuations even in the limit of very long observation times as the percolation density approaches the critical value. This apparent non-ergodic behaviour concurs with the ergodic behaviour on the ensemble averaged level. We demonstrate how the non-vanishing fluctuations in single particle trajectories are analytically expressed in terms of the fractal dimension and the cluster size distribution of the random geometry, thus being of
purely geometrical origin. Moreover, we reveal that the convergence scaling law to ergodicity, which is known to be inversely proportional to the observation time T for ergodic diffusion processes, follows a power-law BTh with h o 1 due to the fractal structure of the accessible space. These results provide useful measures for differentiating the subdiffusion on random fractals from an otherwise closely related process, namely, fractional Brownian motion. Implications of our results on the analysis of single particle tracking experiments are provided.

We investigate the ergodic properties of a random walker performing (anomalous) diffusion on a random fractal geometry. Extensive Monte Carlo simulations of the motion of tracer particles on an ensemble of realisations of percolation clusters are performed for a wide range of percolation densities. Single trajectories of the tracer motion are analysed to quantify the time averaged mean squared displacement (MSD) and to compare this with the ensemble averaged MSD of the particle motion. Other complementary physical observables associated with ergodicity are studied, as well. It turns out that the time averaged MSD of individual realisations exhibits non-vanishing fluctuations even in the limit of very long observation times as the percolation density approaches the critical value. This apparent non-ergodic behaviour concurs with the ergodic behaviour on the ensemble averaged level. We demonstrate how the non-vanishing fluctuations in single particle trajectories are analytically expressed in terms of the fractal dimension and the cluster size distribution of the random geometry, thus being of
purely geometrical origin. Moreover, we reveal that the convergence scaling law to ergodicity, which is known to be inversely proportional to the observation time T for ergodic diffusion processes, follows a power-law BT� h with h o 1 due to the fractal structure of the accessible space. These results provide useful measures for differentiating the subdiffusion on random fractals from an otherwise closely related process, namely, fractional Brownian motion. Implications of our results on the analysis of single particle tracking experiments are provided.

What are the fundamental laws for the adsorption of charged polymers onto oppositely charged surfaces, for convex, planar, and concave geometries? This question is at the heart of surface coating applications, various complex formation phenomena, as well as in the context of cellular and viral biophysics. It has been a long-standing challenge in theoretical polymer physics; for realistic systems the quantitative understanding is however often achievable only by computer simulations. In this study, we present the findings of such extensive Monte-Carlo in silico experiments for polymer–surface adsorption in confined domains. We study the inverted critical adsorption of finite-length polyelectrolytes in three fundamental geometries: planar slit, cylindrical pore, and spherical cavity. The scaling relations extracted from simulations for the critical surface charge density sc—defining the adsorption–desorption transition—are in excellent agreement with our analytical calculations based on the ground-state analysis of the Edwards equation. In particular, we confirm the magnitude and scaling of sc for the concave interfaces versus the Debye screening length 1/k and the extent of confinement a for these three interfaces for small ka values. For large ka the critical adsorption condition approaches the known planar limit. The transition between the two regimes takes place when the radius of surface curvature or half of the slit thickness a is of the order of 1/k. We also rationalize how sc(k) dependence gets modified for semi-flexible versus flexible chains under external confinement. We examine the implications of the chain length for critical adsorption—the effect often hard to tackle theoretically—putting an emphasis on polymers inside attractive spherical cavities. The applications of our findings to some biological systems are discussed, for instance the adsorption of nucleic acids onto the inner surfaces of cylindrical and spherical viral capsids.

We investigate the potential of numerical algorithms to decipher the kinetic parameters involved in multi-step chemical reactions. To this end, we study dimerization kinetics of protein as a model system. We follow the dimerization kinetics using a stochastic simulation algorithm and combine it with three different optimization techniques (genetic algorithm, simulated annealing and parallel tempering) to obtain the rate constants involved in each reaction step. We find good convergence of the numerical scheme to the rate constants of the process. We also perform a sensitivity test on the reaction kinetic parameters to see the relative effects of the parameters for the associated profile of the monomer/dimer distribution.

We study the diffusion of a tracer particle, which moves in continuum space between a lattice of excluded volume, immobile non-inert obstacles. In particular, we analyse how the strength of the tracer–obstacle interactions and the volume occupancy of the crowders alter the diffusive motion of the tracer. From the details of partitioning of the tracer diffusion modes between trapping states when bound to obstacles and bulk diffusion, we examine the degree of localisation of the tracer in the lattice of crowders. We study the properties of the tracer diffusion in terms of the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements, the trapping time distributions, the amplitude variation of the time averaged mean squared displacements, and the non-Gaussianity parameter of the diffusing tracer. We conclude that tracer–obstacle adsorption and binding triggers a transient anomalous diffusion. From a very narrow spread of recorded individual time averaged trajectories we exclude continuous type random walk processes as the underlying physical model of the tracer diffusion in our system. For moderate tracer–crowder attraction the motion is found to be fully ergodic, while at stronger attraction strength a transient disparity between ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements occurs. We also put our results into perspective with findings from experimental single-particle tracking and simulations of the diffusion of tagged tracers in dense crowded suspensions. Our results have implications for the diffusion, transport, and spreading of chemical components in highly crowded environments inside living cells and other structured liquids.

The looping of polymers such as DNA is a fundamental process in the molecular biology of living cells, whose interior is characterised by a high degree of molecular crowding. We here investigate in detail the looping dynamics of flexible polymer chains in the presence of different degrees of crowding. From the analysis of the looping–unlooping rates and the looping probabilities of the chain ends we show that the presence of small crowders typically slows down the chain dynamics but larger crowders may in fact facilitate the looping. We rationalise these non-trivial and often counterintuitive effects of the crowder size on the looping kinetics in terms of an effective solution viscosity and standard excluded volume. It is shown that for small crowders the effect of an increased viscosity dominates, while for big crowders we argue that confinement effects (caging) prevail. The tradeoff between both trends can thus result in the impediment or facilitation of polymer looping, depending on the crowder size. We also examine how the crowding volume fraction, chain length, and the attraction strength of the contact groups of the polymer chain affect the looping kinetics and hairpin formation dynamics. Our results are relevant for DNA looping in the absence and presence of protein mediation, DNA hairpin formation, RNA folding, and the folding of polypeptide chains under biologically relevant high-crowding conditions.

We study the thermal Markovian diffusion of tracer particles in a 2D medium with spatially varying diffusivity D(r), mimicking recently measured, heterogeneous maps of the apparent diffusion coefficient in biological cells. For this heterogeneous diffusion process (HDP) we analyse the mean squared displacement (MSD) of the tracer particles, the time averaged MSD, the spatial probability density function, and the first passage time dynamics from the cell boundary to the nucleus. Moreover we examine the non-ergodic properties of this process which are important for the correct physical interpretation of time averages of observables obtained from single particle tracking experiments. From extensive computer simulations of the 2D stochastic Langevin equation we present an in-depth study of this HDP. In particular, we find that the MSDs along the radial and azimuthal directions in a circular domain obey anomalous and Brownian scaling, respectively. We demonstrate that the time averaged MSD stays linear as a function of the lag time and the system thus reveals a weak ergodicity breaking. Our results will enable one to rationalise the diffusive motion of larger tracer particles such as viruses or submicron beads in biological cells.

Abstract
The emerging diffusive dynamics in many complex systems show a characteristic crossover behaviour from anomalous to normal diffusion which is otherwise fitted by two independent power-laws. A prominent example for a subdiffusive–diffusive crossover are viscoelastic systems such as lipid bilayer membranes, while superdiffusive–diffusive crossovers occur in systems of actively moving biological cells. We here consider the general dynamics of a stochastic particle driven by so-called tempered fractional Gaussian noise, that is noise with Gaussian amplitude and power-law correlations, which are cut off at some mesoscopic time scale. Concretely we consider such noise with built-in exponential or power-law tempering, driving an overdamped Langevin equation (fractional Brownian motion) and fractional Langevin equation motion. We derive explicit expressions for the mean squared displacement and correlation functions, including different shapes of the crossover behaviour depending on the concrete tempering, and discuss the physical meaning of the tempering. In the case of power-law tempering we also find a crossover behaviour from faster to slower superdiffusion and slower to faster subdiffusion. As a direct application of our model we demonstrate that the obtained dynamics quantitatively describes the subdiffusion–diffusion and subdiffusion–subdiffusion crossover in lipid bilayer systems. We also show that a model of tempered fractional Brownian motion recently proposed by Sabzikar and Meerschaert leads to physically very different behaviour with a seemingly paradoxical ballistic long time scaling.

We study the adsorption–desorption transition of polyelectrolyte chains onto planar, cylindrical and spherical surfaces with arbitrarily high surface charge densities by massive Monte Carlo computer simulations. We examine in detail how the well known scaling relations for the threshold transition—demarcating the adsorbed and desorbed domains of a polyelectrolyte near weakly charged surfaces—are altered for highly charged interfaces. In virtue of high surface potentials and large surface charge densities, the Debye–Hückel approximation is often not feasible and the nonlinear Poisson–Boltzmann approach should be implemented. At low salt conditions, for instance, the electrostatic potential from the nonlinear Poisson–Boltzmann equation is smaller than the Debye–Hückel result, such that the required critical surface charge density for polyelectrolyte adsorption σc increases. The nonlinear relation between the surface charge density and electrostatic potential leads to a sharply increasing critical surface charge density with growing ionic strength, imposing an additional limit to the critical salt concentration above which no polyelectrolyte adsorption occurs at all. We contrast our simulations findings with the known scaling results for weak critical polyelectrolyte adsorption onto oppositely charged surfaces for the three standard geometries. Finally, we discuss some applications of our results for some physical–chemical and biophysical systems.

We show that the codifference is a useful tool in studying the ergodicity breaking and non-Gaussianity properties of stochastic time series. While the codifference is a measure of dependence that was previously studied mainly in the context of stable processes, we here extend its range of applicability to random-parameter and diffusing-diffusivity models which are important in contemporary physics, biology and financial engineering. We prove that the codifference detects forms of dependence and ergodicity breaking which are not visible from analysing the covariance and correlation functions. We also discuss a related measure of dispersion, which is a nonlinear analogue of the mean squared displacement.

We introduce three strategies for the analysis of financial time series based on time averaged observables. These comprise the time averaged mean squared displacement (MSD) as well as the ageing and delay time methods for varying fractions of the financial time series. We explore these concepts via statistical analysis of historic time series for several Dow Jones Industrial indices for the period from the 1960s to 2015. Remarkably, we discover a simple universal law for the delay time averaged MSD. The observed features of the financial time series dynamics agree well with our analytical results for the time averaged measurables for geometric Brownian motion, underlying the famed Black–Scholes–Merton model. The concepts we promote here are shown to be useful for financial data analysis and enable one to unveil new universal features of stock market dynamics.

Astandard approach to study time-dependent stochastic processes is the power spectral density (PSD), an ensemble-averaged property defined as the Fourier transform of the autocorrelation function of the process in the asymptotic limit of long observation times, T → ∞. In many experimental situations one is able to garner only relatively few stochastic time series of finite T, such that practically neither an ensemble average nor the asymptotic limit T → ∞ can be achieved. To accommodate for a meaningful analysis of such finite-length data we here develop the framework of single-trajectory spectral analysis for one of the standard models of anomalous diffusion, scaled Brownian motion.Wedemonstrate that the frequency dependence of the single-trajectory PSD is exactly the same as for standard Brownian motion, which may lead one to the erroneous conclusion that the observed motion is normal-diffusive. However, a distinctive feature is shown to be provided by the explicit dependence on the measurement time T, and this ageing phenomenon can be used to deduce the anomalous diffusion exponent.Wealso compare our results to the single-trajectory PSD behaviour of another standard anomalous diffusion process, fractional Brownian motion, and work out the commonalities and differences. Our results represent an important step in establishing singletrajectory PSDs as an alternative (or complement) to analyses based on the time-averaged mean squared displacement.

Based on extensive Monte Carlo simulations and analytical considerations we study the electrostatically driven adsorption of flexible polyelectrolyte chains onto charged Janus nanospheres. These net-neutral colloids are composed of two equally but oppositely charged hemispheres. The critical binding conditions for polyelectrolyte chains are analysed as function of the radius of the Janus particle and its surface charge density, as well as the salt concentration in the ambient solution. Specifically for the adsorption of finite-length polyelectrolyte chains onto Janus nanoparticles, we demonstrate that the critical adsorption conditions drastically differ when the size of the Janus particle or the screening length of the electrolyte are varied. We compare the scaling laws obtained for the adsorption–desorption threshold to the known results for uniformly charged spherical particles, observing significant disparities. We also contrast the changes to the polyelectrolyte chain conformations close to the surface of the Janus nanoparticles as compared to those for simple spherical particles. Finally, we discuss experimentally relevant physico-chemical systems for which our simulations results may become important. In particular, we observe similar trends with polyelectrolyte complexation with oppositely but heterogeneously charged proteins.

It is quite generally assumed that the overdamped Langevin equation provides a quantitative description of the dynamics of a classical Brownian particle in the long time limit. We establish and investigate a paradigm anomalous diffusion process governed by an underdamped Langevin equation with an explicit time dependence of the system temperature and thus the diffusion and damping coefficients. We show that for this underdamped scaled Brownian motion (UDSBM) the overdamped limit fails to describe the long time behaviour of the system and may practically even not exist at all for a certain range of the parameter values. Thus persistent inertial effects play a non-negligible role even at significantly long times. From this study a general questions on the applicability of the overdamped limit to describe the long time motion of an anomalously diffusing particle arises, with profound consequences for the relevance of overdamped anomalous diffusion models. We elucidate our results in view of analytical and simulations results for the anomalous diffusion of particles in free cooling granular gases.

We study the diffusion of a tracer particle, which moves in continuum space between a lattice of excluded volume, immobile non-inert obstacles. In particular, we analyse how the strength of the tracer-obstacle interactions and the volume occupancy of the crowders alter the diffusive motion of the tracer. From the details of partitioning of the tracer diffusion modes between trapping states when bound to obstacles and bulk diffusion, we examine the degree of localisation of the tracer in the lattice of crowders. We study the properties of the tracer diffusion in terms of the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements, the trapping time distributions, the amplitude variation of the time averaged mean squared displacements, and the non-Gaussianity parameter of the diffusing tracer. We conclude that tracer-obstacle adsorption and binding triggers a transient anomalous diffusion. From a very narrow spread of recorded individual time averaged trajectories we exclude continuous type random walk processes as the underlying physical model of the tracer diffusion in our system. For moderate tracer-crowder attraction the motion is found to be fully ergodic, while at stronger attraction strength a transient disparity between ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements occurs. We also put our results into perspective with findings from experimental single-particle tracking and simulations of the diffusion of tagged tracers in dense crowded suspensions. Our results have implications for the diffusion, transport, and spreading of chemical components in highly crowded environments inside living cells and other structured liquids.

We define and study in detail utraslow scaled Brownian motion (USBM) characterized by a time dependent diffusion coefficient of the form . For unconfined motion the mean squared displacement (MSD) of USBM exhibits an ultraslow, logarithmic growth as function of time, in contrast to the conventional scaled Brownian motion. In a harmonic potential the MSD of USBM does not saturate but asymptotically decays inverse-proportionally to time, reflecting the highly non-stationary character of the process. We show that the process is weakly non-ergodic in the sense that the time averaged MSD does not converge to the regular MSD even at long times, and for unconfined motion combines a linear lag time dependence with a logarithmic term. The weakly non-ergodic behaviour is quantified in terms of the ergodicity breaking parameter. The USBM process is also shown to be ageing: observables of the system depend on the time gap between initiation of the test particle and start of the measurement of its motion. Our analytical results are shown to agree excellently with extensive computer simulations.

Generalized space-time fractional diffusion equation with composite fractional time derivative
(2012)

We investigate the solution of space-time fractional diffusion equations with a generalized Riemann-Liouville time fractional derivative and Riesz-Feller space fractional derivative. The Laplace and Fourier transform methods are applied to solve the proposed fractional diffusion equation. The results are represented by using the Mittag-Leffler functions and the Fox H-function. Special cases of the initial and boundary conditions are considered. Numerical scheme and Grunwald-Letnikov approximation are also used to solve the space-time fractional diffusion equation. The fractional moments of the fundamental solution of the considered space-time fractional diffusion equation are obtained. Many known results are special cases of those obtained in this paper. We investigate also the solution of a space-time fractional diffusion equations with a singular term of the form delta(x). t-beta/Gamma(1-beta) (beta > 0).

The power spectral density (PSD) of any time-dependent stochastic processX (t) is ameaningful feature of its spectral content. In its text-book definition, the PSD is the Fourier transform of the covariance function of X-t over an infinitely large observation timeT, that is, it is defined as an ensemble-averaged property taken in the limitT -> infinity. Alegitimate question is what information on the PSD can be reliably obtained from single-trajectory experiments, if one goes beyond the standard definition and analyzes the PSD of a single trajectory recorded for a finite observation timeT. In quest for this answer, for a d-dimensional Brownian motion (BM) we calculate the probability density function of a single-trajectory PSD for arbitrary frequency f, finite observation time T and arbitrary number k of projections of the trajectory on different axes. We show analytically that the scaling exponent for the frequency-dependence of the PSD specific to an ensemble of BM trajectories can be already obtained from a single trajectory, while the numerical amplitude in the relation between the ensemble-averaged and single-trajectory PSDs is afluctuating property which varies from realization to realization. The distribution of this amplitude is calculated exactly and is discussed in detail. Our results are confirmed by numerical simulations and single-particle tracking experiments, with remarkably good agreement. In addition we consider a truncated Wiener representation of BM, and the case of a discrete-time lattice random walk. We highlight some differences in the behavior of a single-trajectory PSD for BM and for the two latter situations. The framework developed herein will allow for meaningful physical analysis of experimental stochastic trajectories.

Textbook concepts of diffusion-versus kinetic-control are well-defined for reaction-kinetics involving macroscopic concentrations of diffusive reactants that are adequately described by rate-constants—the inverse of the mean-first-passage-time to the reaction-event. In contradiction, an open important question is whether the mean-first-passage-time alone is a sufficient measure for biochemical reactions that involve nanomolar reactant concentrations. Here, using a simple yet generic, exactly solvable model we study the effect of diffusion and chemical reaction-limitations on the full reaction-time distribution. We show that it has a complex structure with four distinct regimes delineated by three characteristic time scales spanning a window of several decades. Consequently, the reaction-times are defocused: no unique time-scale characterises the reaction-process, diffusion- and kinetic-control can no longer be disentangled, and it is imperative to know the full reaction-time distribution. We introduce the concepts of geometry- and reaction-control, and also quantify each regime by calculating the corresponding reaction depth.

The rapid worldwide spread of severe viral infections, often involving novel mutations of viruses, poses major challenges to our health-care systems. This means that tools that can efficiently and specifically diagnose viruses are much needed. To be relevant for broad applications in local health-care centers, such tools should be relatively cheap and easy to use. In this paper, we discuss the biophysical potential for the macroscopic detection of viruses based on the induction of a mechanical stress in a bundle of prestretched DNA molecules upon binding of viruses to the DNA. We show that the affinity of the DNA to the charged virus surface induces a local melting of the double helix into two single-stranded DNA. This process effects a mechanical stress along the DNA chains leading to an overall contraction of the DNA. Our results suggest that when such DNA bundles are incorporated in a supporting matrix such as a responsive hydrogel, the presence of viruses may indeed lead to a significant, macroscopic mechanical deformation of the matrix. We discuss the biophysical basis for this effect and characterize the physical properties of the associated DNA melting transition. In particular, we reveal several scaling relations between the relevant physical parameters of the system. We promote this DNA-based assay as a possible tool for efficient and specific virus screening.

In both eukaryotic and prokaryotic DNA sequences of 30-100 base-pairs rich in AT base-pairs have been identified at which the double helix preferentially unwinds. Such DNA unwinding elements are commonly associated with origins for DNA replication and transcription, and with chromosomal matrix attachment regions. Here we present a quantitative study of local DNA unwinding based on extensive single DNA plasmid imaging. We demonstrate that long-lived single-stranded denaturation bubbles exist in negatively supercoiled DNA, at the expense of partial twist release. Remarkably, we observe a linear relation between the degree of supercoiling and the bubble size, in excellent agreement with statistical modelling. Furthermore, we obtain the full distribution of bubble sizes and the opening probabilities at varying salt and temperature conditions. The results presented herein underline the important role of denaturation bubbles in negatively supercoiled DNA for biological processes such as transcription and replication initiation in vivo.

Recent advances in single particle tracking and supercomputing techniques demonstrate the emergence of normal or anomalous, viscoelastic diffusion in conjunction with non-Gaussian distributions in soft, biological, and active matter systems. We here formulate a stochastic model based on a generalised Langevin equation in which non-Gaussian shapes of the probability density function and normal or anomalous diffusion have a common origin, namely a random parametrisation of the stochastic force. We perform a detailed analysis demonstrating how various types of parameter distributions for the memory kernel result in exponential, power law, or power-log law tails of the memory functions. The studied system is also shown to exhibit a further unusual property: the velocity has a Gaussian one point probability density but non-Gaussian joint distributions. This behaviour is reflected in the relaxation from a Gaussian to a non-Gaussian distribution observed for the position variable. We show that our theoretical results are in excellent agreement with stochastic simulations.

Optimization and universality of Brownian search in a basic model of quenched heterogeneous media
(2015)

The kinetics of a variety of transport-controlled processes can be reduced to the problem of determining the mean time needed to arrive at a given location for the first time, the so-called mean first-passage time ( MFPT) problem. The occurrence of occasional large jumps or intermittent patterns combining various types of motion are known to outperform the standard random walk with respect to the MFPT, by reducing oversampling of space. Here we show that a regular but spatially heterogeneous random walk can significantly and universally enhance the search in any spatial dimension. In a generic minimal model we consider a spherically symmetric system comprising two concentric regions with piecewise constant diffusivity. The MFPT is analyzed under the constraint of conserved average dynamics, that is, the spatially averaged diffusivity is kept constant. Our analytical calculations and extensive numerical simulations demonstrate the existence of an optimal heterogeneity minimizing the MFPT to the target. We prove that the MFPT for a random walk is completely dominated by what we term direct trajectories towards the target and reveal a remarkable universality of the spatially heterogeneous search with respect to target size and system dimensionality. In contrast to intermittent strategies, which are most profitable in low spatial dimensions, the spatially inhomogeneous search performs best in higher dimensions. Discussing our results alongside recent experiments on single-particle tracking in living cells, we argue that the observed spatial heterogeneity may be beneficial for cellular signaling processes.

Ageing first passage time density in continuous time random walks and quenched energy landscapes
(2015)

We study the first passage dynamics of an ageing stochastic process in the continuous time random walk (CTRW) framework. In such CTRW processes the test particle performs a random walk, in which successive steps are separated by random waiting times distributed in terms of the waiting time probability density function Psi (t) similar or equal to t(-1-alpha) (0 <= alpha <= 2). An ageing stochastic process is defined by the explicit dependence of its dynamic quantities on the ageing time t(a), the time elapsed between its preparation and the start of the observation. Subdiffusive ageing CTRWs with 0 < alpha < 1 describe systems such as charge carriers in amorphous semiconducters, tracer dispersion in geological and biological systems, or the dynamics of blinking quantum dots. We derive the exact forms of the first passage time density for an ageing subdiffusive CTRW in the semi-infinite, confined, and biased case, finding different scaling regimes for weakly, intermediately, and strongly aged systems: these regimes, with different scaling laws, are also found when the scaling exponent is in the range 1 < alpha < 2, for sufficiently long ta. We compare our results with the ageing motion of a test particle in a quenched energy landscape. We test our theoretical results in the quenched landscape against simulations: only when the bias is strong enough, the correlations from returning to previously visited sites become insignificant and the results approach the ageing CTRW results. With small bias or without bias, the ageing effects disappear and a change in the exponent compared to the case of a completely annealed landscape can be found, reflecting the build-up of correlations in the quenched landscape.

Aging, the dependence of the dynamics of a physical process on the time t(a) since its original preparation, is observed in systems ranging from the motion of charge carriers in amorphous semiconductors over the blinking dynamics of quantum dots to the tracer dispersion in living biological cells. Here we study the effects of aging on one of the most fundamental properties of a stochastic process, the first-passage dynamics. We find that for an aging continuous time random walk process, the scaling exponent of the density of first-passage times changes twice as the aging progresses and reveals an intermediate scaling regime. The first-passage dynamics depends on t(a) differently for intermediate and strong aging. Similar crossovers are obtained for the first-passage dynamics for a confined and driven particle. Comparison to the motion of an aged particle in the quenched trap model with a bias shows excellent agreement with our analytical findings. Our results demonstrate how first-passage measurements can be used to unravel the age t(a) of a physical system.

We study ultraslow diffusion processes with logarithmic mean squared displacement (MSD) < x(2)(t)> similar or equal to log(gamma)t. Comparison of annealed (renewal) continuous time random walks (CTRWs) with logarithmic waiting time distribution psi(tau) similar or equal to 1/(tau log(1+gamma)tau) and Sinai diffusion in quenched random landscapes reveals striking similarities, despite the great differences in their physical nature. In particular, they exhibit a weakly non-ergodic disparity of the time-averaged and ensemble-averaged MSDs. Remarkably, for the CTRW we observe that the fluctuations of time averages become universal, with an exponential suppression of mobile trajectories. We discuss the fundamental connection between the Golosov localization effect and non-ergodicity in the sense of the disparity between ensemble-averaged MSD and time-averaged MSD.

Recent experiments reveal both passive subdiffusion of various nanoparticles and anomalous active transport of such particles by molecular motors in the molecularly crowded environment of living biological cells. Passive and active microrheology reveals that the origin of this anomalous dynamics is due to the viscoelasticity of the intracellular fluid. How do molecular motors perform in such a highly viscous, dissipative environment? Can we explain the observed co-existence of the anomalous transport of relatively large particles of 100 to 500 nm in size by kinesin motors with the normal transport of smaller particles by the same molecular motors? What is the efficiency of molecular motors in the anomalous transport regime? Here we answer these seemingly conflicting questions and consistently explain experimental findings in a generalization of the well-known continuous diffusion model for molecular motors with two conformational states in which viscoelastic effects are included.

We study the ergodic properties of superdiffusive, spatiotemporally coupled Levy walk processes. For trajectories of finite duration, we reveal a distinct scatter of the scaling exponents of the time averaged mean squared displacement (delta x(2)) over bar around the ensemble value 3 - alpha (1 < alpha < 2) ranging from ballistic motion to subdiffusion, in strong contrast to the behavior of subdiffusive processes. In addition we find a significant dependence of the average of (delta x(2)) over bar over an ensemble of trajectories as a function of the finite measurement time. This so-called finite-time amplitude depression and the scatter of the scaling exponent is vital in the quantitative evaluation of superdiffusive processes. Comparing the long time average of the second moment with the ensemble mean squared displacement, these only differ by a constant factor, an ultraweak ergodicity breaking.

Based on extensive Brownian dynamics simulations we study the thermal motion of a tracer bead in a cross-linked, flexible gel in the limit when the tracer particle size is comparable to or even larger than the equilibrium mesh size of the gel. The analysis of long individual trajectories of the tracer demonstrates the existence of pronounced transient anomalous diffusion. From the time averaged mean squared displacement and the time averaged van Hove correlation functions we elucidate the many-body origin of the non-Brownian tracer bead dynamics. Our results shed new light onto the ongoing debate over the physical origin of steric tracer interactions with structured environments.

Based on the space-fractional Fokker-Planck equation with a delta-sink term, we study the efficiency of random search processes based on Levy flights with power-law distributed jump lengths in the presence of an external drift, for instance, an underwater current, an airflow, or simply the preference of the searcher based on prior experience. While Levy flights turn out to be efficient search processes when the target is upstream relative to the starting point, in the downstream scenario, regular Brownian motion turns out to be advantageous. This is caused by the occurrence of leapovers of Levy flights, due to which Levy flights typically overshoot a point or small interval. Studying the solution of the fractional Fokker-Planck equation, we establish criteria when the combination of the external stream and the initial distance between the starting point and the target favours Levy flights over the regular Brownian search. Contrary to the common belief that Levy flights with a Levy index alpha = 1 (i.e. Cauchy flights) are optimal for sparse targets, we find that the optimal value for alpha may range in the entire interval (1, 2) and explicitly include Brownian motion as the most efficient search strategy overall.