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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.

In the scenario of the narrow escape problem (NEP) a particle diffuses in a finite container and eventually leaves it through a small 'escape window' in the otherwise impermeable boundary, once it arrives to this window and crosses an entropic barrier at the entrance to it. This generic problem is mathematically identical to that of a diffusion-mediated reaction with a partially-reactive site on the container's boundary. Considerable knowledge is available on the dependence of the mean first-reaction time (FRT) on the pertinent parameters. We here go a distinct step further and derive the full FRT distribution for the NEP. We demonstrate that typical FRTs may be orders of magnitude shorter than the mean one, thus resulting in a strong defocusing of characteristic temporal scales. We unveil the geometry-control of the typical times, emphasising the role of the initial distance to the target as a decisive parameter. A crucial finding is the further FRT defocusing due to the barrier, necessitating repeated escape or reaction attempts interspersed with bulk excursions. These results add new perspectives and offer a broad comprehension of various features of the by-now classical NEP that are relevant for numerous biological and technological systems.

Time-dependent processes are often analyzed using the power spectral density (PSD) calculated by taking an appropriate Fourier transform of individual trajectories and finding the associated ensemble average. Frequently, the available experimental datasets are too small for such ensemble averages, and hence, it is of a great conceptual and practical importance to understand to which extent relevant information can be gained from S(f, T), the PSD of a single trajectory. Here we focus on the behavior of this random, realization-dependent variable parametrized by frequency f and observation time T, for a broad family of anomalous diffusions-fractional Brownian motion with Hurst index H-and derive exactly its probability density function. We show that S(f, T) is proportional-up to a random numerical factor whose universal distribution we determine-to the ensemble-averaged PSD. For subdiffusion (H < 1/2), we find that S(f, T) similar to A/f(2H+1) with random amplitude A. In sharp contrast, for superdiffusion (H > 1/2) S(f, T) similar to BT2H-1/f(2) with random amplitude B. Remarkably, for H > 1/2 the PSD exhibits the same frequency dependence as Brownian motion, a deceptive property that may lead to false conclusions when interpreting experimental data. Notably, for H > 1/2 the PSD is ageing and is dependent on T. Our predictions for both sub-and superdiffusion are confirmed by experiments in live cells and in agarose hydrogels and by extensive simulations.

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.