Hybrid asymptotic-numerical approach for estimating first passage time densities of the two-dimensional narrow capture problem

A. E. Lindsay, R. T. Spoonmore, J. C. Tzou

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23 Citations (Scopus)


A hybrid asymptotic-numerical method is presented for obtaining an asymptotic estimate for the full probability distribution of capture times of a random walker by multiple small traps located inside a bounded two-dimensional domain with a reflecting boundary. As motivation for this study, we calculate the variance in the capture time of a random walker by a single interior trap and determine this quantity to be comparable in magnitude to the mean. This implies that the mean is not necessarily reflective of typical capture times and that the full density must be determined. To solve the underlying diffusion equation, the method of Laplace transforms is used to obtain an elliptic problem of modified Helmholtz type. In the limit of vanishing trap sizes, each trap is represented as a Dirac point source that permits the solution of the transform equation to be represented as a superposition of Helmholtz Green's functions. Using this solution, we construct asymptotic short-time solutions of the first-passage-time density, which captures peaks associated with rapid capture by the absorbing traps. When numerical evaluation of the Helmholtz Green's function is employed followed by numerical inversion of the Laplace transform, the method reproduces the density for larger times. We demonstrate the accuracy of our solution technique with a comparison to statistics obtained from a time-dependent solution of the diffusion equation and discrete particle simulations. In particular, we demonstrate that the method is capable of capturing the multimodal behavior in the capture time density that arises when the traps are strategically arranged. The hybrid method presented can be applied to scenarios involving both arbitrary domains and trap shapes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 042418
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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