Laboratoire de Physique Théorique

de la Matière Condensée

G. Vaccario, C. Antoine, and J. Talbot
Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 240601 – Published 9 December 2015


Although there are many theoretical studies of the mean first-passage time (MFPT), most neglect the diffusive heterogeneity of real systems. We present exact analytical expressions for the MFPT and residence times of a pointlike particle diffusing in a spherically symmetric d-dimensional heterogeneous system composed of two concentric media with different diffusion coefficients with an absorbing inner boundary (target) and a reflecting outer boundary. By varying the convention, e.g., Itō, Stratonovich, or isothermal, chosen to interpret the overdamped Langevin equation with multiplicative noise describing the diffusion process, we find different predictions and counterintuitive results for the residence time in the outer region and hence for the MFPT, while the residence time in the inner region is independent of the convention. This convention dependence of residence times and the MFPT could provide insights about the heterogeneous diffusion in a cell or in a tumor, or for animal and insect searches inside their home range.