State-dependent diffusion: Thermodynamic consistency and its path integral formulation

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2007 Jul;76(1 Pt 1):011123. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.76.011123. Epub 2007 Jul 27.


The friction coefficient of a particle can depend on its position, as it does when the particle is near a wall. We formulate the dynamics of particles with such state-dependent friction coefficients in terms of a general Langevin equation with multiplicative noise, whose evaluation requires the introduction of specific rules. Two common conventions, the Ito and the Stratonovich, provide alternative rules for evaluation of the noise, but other conventions are possible. We show that the requirement that a particle's distribution function approach the Boltzmann distribution at long times dictates that a drift term must be added to the Langevin equation. This drift term is proportional to the derivative of the diffusion coefficient times a factor that depends on the convention used to define the multiplicative noise. We explore the consequences of this result in a number of examples with spatially varying diffusion coefficients. We also derive a path integral representation for arbitrary interpretation of the noise, and use it in a perturbative study of correlations in a simple system.