Probing the type of anomalous diffusion with single-particle tracking
Many reactions in complex fluids, e.g. signaling cascades in the cytoplasm of living cells, are governed by a diffusion-driven encounter of reactants. Yet, diffusion in complex fluids often exhibits an anomalous characteristic (‘subdiffusion’). Since different types of subdiffusion have distinct effects on timing and equilibria of chemical reactions, a thorough determination of the reactants' type of random walk is key to a quantitative understanding of reactions in complex fluids. Here we introduce a straightforward and simple approach for determining the type of subdiffusion from single-particle tracking data. Unlike previous approaches, our method also is sensitive to transient subdiffusion phenomena, e.g. obstructed diffusion below the percolation threshold. We validate our strategy with data from experiment and simulation.