Narrow escape, part II: The circular disk

A. Singer, Z. Schuss, D. Holcman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


We consider Brownian motion in a circular disk Ω, whose boundary ∂Ω is reflecting, except for a small arc, ∂Ωa, which is absorbing. As ε = |∂Ωa|/|∂Ω decreases to zero the mean time to absorption in ∂Ωa, denoted Eτ, becomes infinite. The narrow escape problem is to find an asymptotic expansion of Eτ for ε ≪ 1. We find the first two terms in the expansion and an estimate of the error. The results are extended in a straightforward manner to planar domains and two-dimensional Riemannian manifolds that can be mapped conformally onto the disk. Our results improve the previously derived expansion for a general domain, Eτ = |Ω|/Dπ[log 1/ε + O(1)], (D is the diffusion coefficient) in the case of a circular disk. We find that the mean first passage time from the center of the disk is E[τ|x(0) = 0] = R2/D[log 1/ε + log 2 + 1/4 + Oε]. The second term in the expansion is needed in real life applications, such as trafficking of receptors on neuronal spines, because log 1/ε is not necessarily large, even when ε is small. We also find the singular behavior of the probability flux profile into ∂Ωa at the endpoints of ∂Ωa, and find the value of the flux near the center of the window.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-489
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


  • Exit problem
  • Planar Brownian motion
  • Singular perturbations


Dive into the research topics of 'Narrow escape, part II: The circular disk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this