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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.

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 sigma(c)-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 sigma(c) for the concave interfaces versus the Debye screening length 1/kappa and the extent of confinement a for these three interfaces for small kappa a values. For large kappa a 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/kappa. We also rationalize how sigma(c)(kappa) 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.

Brownian motion 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 epsilon. 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 epsilon 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 similar to T-h with h < 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.

Polymer looping is controlled by macromolecular crowding, spatial confinement, and chain stiffness
(2015)

We study by extensive computer simulations the looping characteristics of linear polymers with varying persistence length inside a spherical cavity in the presence of macromolecular crowding. For stiff chains, the looping probability and looping time reveal wildly oscillating patterns as functions of the chain length. The effects of crowding differ dramatically for flexible versus stiff polymers. While for flexible chains the looping kinetics is slowed down by the crowders, for stiffer chains the kinetics turns out to be either decreased or facilitated, depending on the polymer length. For severe confinement, the looping kinetics may become strongly facilitated by crowding. Our findings are of broad impact for DNA looping in the crowded and compartmentalized interior of living biological cells.

Multiple loop formation in polymer macromolecules is an important feature of the chromatin organization and DNA compactification in the nuclei. We analyse the size and shape characteristics of complex polymer structures, containing in general f(1) loops (petals) and f(2) linear chains (branches). Within the frames of continuous model of Gaussian macromolecule, we apply the path integration method and obtain the estimates for gyration radius R-g and asphericity (A) over cap of typical conformation as functions of parameters f(1), f(2). In particular, our results qualitatively reveal the extent of anisotropy of star-like topologies as compared to the rosette structures of the same total molecular weight.

Aging scaled Brownian motion
(2015)

Scaled Brownian motion (SBM) is widely used to model anomalous diffusion of passive tracers in complex and biological systems. It is a highly nonstationary process governed by the Langevin equation for Brownian motion, however, with a power-law time dependence of the noise strength. Here we study the aging properties of SBM for both unconfined and confined motion. Specifically, we derive the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements and analyze their behavior in the regimes of weak, intermediate, and strong aging. A very rich behavior is revealed for confined aging SBM depending on different aging times and whether the process is sub- or superdiffusive. We demonstrate that the information on the aging factorizes with respect to the lag time and exhibits a functional form that is identical to the aging behavior of scale-free continuous time random walk processes. While SBM exhibits a disparity between ensemble and time averaged observables and is thus weakly nonergodic, strong aging is shown to effect a convergence of the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacement. Finally, we derive the density of first passage times in the semi-infinite domain that features a crossover defined by the aging time.

We study noisy heterogeneous diffusion processes with a position dependent diffusivity of the form D(x) similar to D-0 vertical bar x vertical bar (alpha 0) in the presence of annealed and quenched disorder of the environment, corresponding to an effective variation of the exponent a in time and space. In the case of annealed disorder, for which effectively alpha(0) = alpha(0)(t), we show how the long time scaling of the ensemble mean squared displacement (MSD) and the amplitude variation of individual realizations of the time averaged MSD are affected by the disorder strength. For the case of quenched disorder, the long time behavior becomes effectively Brownian after a number of jumps between the domains of a stratified medium. In the latter situation, the averages are taken over both an ensemble of particles and different realizations of the disorder. As physical observables, we analyze in detail the ensemble and time averaged MSDs, the ergodicity breaking parameter, and higher order moments of the time averages. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.

We study generalized anomalous diffusion processes whose diffusion coefficient D(x, t) similar to D-0x(alpha)t(beta) depends on both the position x of the test particle and the process time t. This process thus combines the features of scaled Brownian motion and heterogeneous diffusion parent processes. We compute the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements of this generalized diffusion process. The scaling exponent of the ensemble averaged mean squared displacement is shown to be the product of the critical exponents of the parent processes, and describes both subdiffusive and superdiffusive systems. We quantify the amplitude fluctuations of the time averaged mean squared displacement as function of the length of the time series and the lag time. In particular, we observe a weak ergodicity breaking of this generalized diffusion process: even in the long time limit the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements are strictly disparate. When we start to observe this process some time after its initiation we observe distinct features of ageing. We derive a universal ageing factor for the time averaged mean squared displacement containing all information on the ageing time and the measurement time. External confinement is shown to alter the magnitudes and statistics of the ensemble and time averaged mean squared displacements.

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.

We define and study in detail utraslow scaled Brownian motion (USBM) characterized by a time dependent diffusion coefficient of the form D(t) similar or equal to 1/t. 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.

Acanthamoebae are free-living protists and human pathogens, whose cellular functions and pathogenicity strongly depend on the transport of intracellular vesicles and granules through the cytosol. Using high-speed live cell imaging in combination with single-particle tracking analysis, we show here that the motion of endogenous intracellular particles in the size range from a few hundred nanometers to several micrometers in Acanthamoeba castellanii is strongly superdiffusive and influenced by cell locomotion, cytoskeletal elements, and myosin II. We demonstrate that cell locomotion significantly contributes to intracellular particle motion, but is clearly not the only origin of superdiffusivity. By analyzing the contribution of microtubules, actin, and myosin II motors we show that myosin II is a major driving force of intracellular motion in A. castellanii. The cytoplasm of A. castellanii is supercrowded with intracellular vesicles and granules, such that significant intracellular motion can only be achieved by actively driven motion, while purely thermally driven diffusion is negligible.

Recent experiments show that transcription factors (TFs) indeed use the facilitated diffusion mechanism to locate their target sequences on DNA in living bacteria cells: TFs alternate between sliding motion along DNA and relocation events through the cytoplasm. From simulations and theoretical analysis we study the TF-sliding motion for a large section of the DNA-sequence of a common E. coli strain, based on the two-state TF-model with a fast-sliding search state and a recognition state enabling target detection. For the probability to detect the target before dissociating from DNA the TF-search times self-consistently depend heavily on whether or not an auxiliary operator (an accessible sequence similar to the main operator) is present in the genome section. Importantly, within our model the extent to which the interconversion rates between search and recognition states depend on the underlying nucleotide sequence is varied. A moderate dependence maximises the capability to distinguish between the main operator and similar sequences. Moreover, these auxiliary operators serve as starting points for DNA looping with the main operator, yielding a spectrum of target detection times spanning several orders of magnitude. Auxiliary operators are shown to act as funnels facilitating target detection by TFs.

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.

We consider anomalous stochastic processes based on the renewal continuous time random walk model with different forms for the probability density of waiting times between individual jumps. In the corresponding continuum limit we derive the generalized diffusion and Fokker-Planck-Smoluchowski equations with the corresponding memory kernels. We calculate the qth order moments in the unbiased and biased cases, and demonstrate that the generalized Einstein relation for the considered dynamics remains valid. The relaxation of modes in the case of an external harmonic potential and the convergence of the mean squared displacement to the thermal plateau are analyzed.

We examine the non-ergodic properties of scaled Brownian motion (SBM), a non-stationary stochastic process with a time dependent diffusivity of the form D(t) similar or equal to t(alpha-1). We compute the ergodicity breaking parameter EB in the entire range of scaling exponents a, both analytically and via extensive computer simulations of the stochastic Langevin equation. We demonstrate that in the limit of long trajectory lengths T and short lag times Delta the EB parameter as function of the scaling exponent a has no divergence at alpha - 1/2 and present the asymptotes for EB in different limits. We generalize the analytical and simulations results for the time averaged and ergodic properties of SBM in the presence of ageing, that is, when the observation of the system starts only a finite time span after its initiation. The approach developed here for the calculation of the higher time averaged moments of the particle displacement can be applied to derive the ergodic properties of other stochastic processes such as fractional Brownian motion.

We study distributed-order time fractional diffusion equations characterized by multifractal memory kernels, in contrast to the simple power-law kernel of common time fractional diffusion equations. Based on the physical approach to anomalous diffusion provided by the seminal Scher-Montroll-Weiss continuous time random walk, we analyze both natural and modified-form distributed-order time fractional diffusion equations and compare the two approaches. The mean squared displacement is obtained and its limiting behavior analyzed. We derive the connection between the Wiener process, described by the conventional Langevin equation and the dynamics encoded by the distributed-order time fractional diffusion equation in terms of a generalized subordination of time. A detailed analysis of the multifractal properties of distributed-order diffusion equations is provided.

We study the dynamics of polymer chains in a bath of self-propelled particles (SPP) by extensive Langevin dynamics simulations in a two-dimensional model system. Specifically, we analyse the polymer looping properties versus the SPP activity and investigate how the presence of the active particles alters the chain conformational statistics. We find that SPPs tend to extend flexible polymer chains, while they rather compactify stiffer semiflexible polymers, in agreement with previous results. Here we show that higher activities of SPPs yield a higher effective temperature of the bath and thus facilitate the looping kinetics of a passive polymer chain. We explicitly compute the looping probability and looping time in a wide range of the model parameters. We also analyse the motion of a monomeric tracer particle and the polymer's centre of mass in the presence of the active particles in terms of the time averaged mean squared displacement, revealing a giant diffusivity enhancement for the polymer chain via SPP pooling. Our results are applicable to rationalising the dimensions and looping kinetics of biopolymers at constantly fluctuating and often actively driven conditions inside biological cells or in suspensions of active colloidal particles or bacteria cells.

We examine by extensive computer simulations the self-diffusion of anisotropic star-like particles in crowded two-dimensional solutions. We investigate the implications of the area coverage fraction phi of the crowders and the crowder-crowder adhesion properties on the regime of transient anomalous diffusion. We systematically compute the mean squared displacement (MSD) of the particles, their time averaged MSD, and the effective diffusion coefficient. The diffusion is ergodic in the limit of long traces, such that the mean time averaged MSD converges towards the ensemble averaged MSD, and features a small residual amplitude spread of the time averaged MSD from individual trajectories. At intermediate time scales, we quantify the anomalous diffusion in the system. Also, we show that the translational-but not rotational-diffusivity of the particles Dis a nonmonotonic function of the attraction strength between them. Both diffusion coefficients decrease as the power law D(phi) similar to (1 - phi/phi*)(2 ... 2.4) with the area fraction phi occupied by the crowders and the critical value phi*. Our results might be applicable to rationalising the experimental observations of non-Brownian diffusion for a number of standard macromolecular crowders used in vitro to mimic the cytoplasmic conditions of living cells.

Many chemical reactions in biological cells occur at very low concentrations of constituent molecules. Thus, transcriptional gene-regulation is often controlled by poorly expressed transcription-factors, such as E. coli lac repressor with few tens of copies. Here we study the effects of inherent concentration fluctuations of substrate-molecules on the seminal Michaelis-Menten scheme of biochemical reactions. We present a universal correction to the Michaelis-Menten equation for the reaction-rates. The relevance and validity of this correction for enzymatic reactions and intracellular gene-regulation is demonstrated. Our analytical theory and simulation results confirm that the proposed variance-corrected Michaelis-Menten equation predicts the rate of reactions with remarkable accuracy even in the presence of large non-equilibrium concentration fluctuations. The major advantage of our approach is that it involves only the mean and variance of the substrate-molecule concentration. Our theory is therefore accessible to experiments and not specific to the exact source of the concentration fluctuations.

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.

Many chemical reactions in biological cells occur at very low concentrations of constituent molecules. Thus, transcriptional gene-regulation is often controlled by poorly expressed transcription-factors, such as E.coli lac repressor with few tens of copies. Here we study the effects of inherent concentration fluctuations of substrate-molecules on the seminal Michaelis-Menten scheme of biochemical reactions. We present a universal correction to the Michaelis-Menten equation for the reaction-rates. The relevance and validity of this correction for enzymatic reactions and intracellular gene-regulation is demonstrated. Our analytical theory and simulation results confirm that the proposed variance-corrected Michaelis-Menten equation predicts the rate of reactions with remarkable accuracy even in the presence of large non-equilibrium concentration fluctuations. The major advantage of our approach is that it involves only the mean and variance of the substrate-molecule concentration. Our theory is therefore accessible to experiments and not specific to the exact source of the concentration fluctuations.

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 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.