Macroscopic Transport Equations in Many-Body Systems from Microscopic Exclusion Processes in Disordered Media: A Review
Frontiers in Physics
Describing particle transport at the macroscopic or mesoscopic level in non-ideal environments poses fundamental theoretical challenges in domains ranging from inter and intra-cellular transport in biology to diffusion in porous media. Yet, often the nature of the constraints coming from many-body interactions or reflecting a complex and confining environment are better understood and modeled at the microscopic level. In this paper we review the subtle link between microscopic exclusion
... c exclusion processes and the mean-field equations that ensue from them in the continuum limit. We show that in an inhomogeneous medium, i.e., when jumps are controlled by site-dependent hopping rates, one can obtain three different nonlinear advection-diffusion equations in the continuum limit, suitable for describing transport in the presence of quenched disorder and external fields, depending on the particular rule embodying site inequivalence at the microscopic level. In a situation that might be termed point-like scenario, when particles are treated as point-like objects, the effect of crowding as imposed at the microscopic level manifests in the mean-field equations only if some degree of inhomogeneity is enforced into the model. Conversely, when interacting agents are assigned a finite size, under the more realistic extended crowding framework, exclusion constraints persist in the unbiased macroscopic representation.