We study the diffusive motion of particles among fixed spherical crowders. The diffusers interact with the crowders through a combination of a hard-core repulsion and a short-range attraction. The long-time effective diffusion coefficient of the diffusers is found to depend nonmonotonically on the strength of their attraction to the crowders. That is, for a given concentration of crowders, a weak attraction to the crowders enhances diffusion. We show that this counterintuitive fact can be understood in terms of the mesoscopic excess chemical potential landscape experienced by the diffuser. The roughness of this excess chemical potential landscape quantitatively captures the nonmonotonic dependence of the diffusion rate on the strength of crowder-diffuser attraction; thus, it is a purely static predictor of dynamic behavior. The mesoscopic view given here provides a unified explanation for enhanced diffusion effects that have been found in various systems of technological and biological interest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)