Rapid calculation of maximum particle lifetime for diffusion in complex geometries.
Diffusion of molecules within biological cells and tissues is strongly influenced by crowding. A key quantity to characterize diffusion is the particle lifetime, which is the time taken for a diffusing particle to exit by hitting an absorbing boundary. Calculating the particle lifetime provides valuable information, for example, by allowing us to compare the timescale of diffusion and the timescale of reaction, thereby helping us to develop appropriate mathematical models. Previous methods to quantify particle lifetimes focus on the mean particle lifetime. Here, we take a different approach and present a simple, rapid, simulation-free method for calculating the maximum particle lifetime. This is the time after which only a small specified proportion of particles in an ensemble remain in the system. Our approach produces accurate estimates of the maximum particle lifetime, whereas the mean particle lifetime always underestimates this value compared with data from stochastic simulations. Furthermore, we find that differences between the mean and maximum particle lifetimes become increasingly important when considering diffusion hindered by obstacles.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.03471
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