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2019-02

Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall

Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research, 050030 Medellin, Colombia
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22874.80320

Abstract

In this work, a mathematical derivation of the probability of collision of a particle moving at


constant velocity against a flat wall is obtained, assuming that the velocity of the particle is
random, and its position at an initial time is either known or also random. A general expression
is obtained for the probability of collision as a function of the probability distribution of the
velocity and position of the particle, as well as the size of the wall. Depending on the particular
geometry and random distribution considered (e.g. uniform and normal distributions),
different shapes of the probability as a function of the expected collision time (time required
by the particle to reach the plane wall) are obtained. It is expected that the expressions
obtained can be used for analyzing the behavior of different types of particles including
colloids, ideal gases, subatomic particles and photons.

Keywords

Change of Variable Theorem, Collision, Inertial Particles, Normal Distribution, Motion,


Probability Density Function, Randomistics, Randomness, Standard Transformations, Uniform
Distribution.

1. Introduction

The purpose of this work is obtaining a mathematical description of the probability of collision
of a particle moving at a random but constant velocity against a flat rectangular wall. The
results obtained might be useful for a better description of the flux of molecules across
boundaries, reaction kinetics, transport phenomena, and also for understanding optical
phenomena.

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Let us consider a perfectly flat rectangular wall of width and height , where the center of
the wall is the origin of Cartesian coordinates, and the coordinate axis are aligned with the wall
as depicted in Figure 1. The -axis is perpendicular to the plane of the wall. Now, let us assume
that there is a spherical particle with radius negligible compared to the size of the wall,
located at time at the known position ⃗ ( ), moving at the known
constant velocity ⃗ ( ), as represented in Figure 2.

Figure 1. Position of the rectangular flat wall, relative to the three-dimensional Cartesian
coordinates ( , , ). is the height of the wall. is the width of the wall. is the Cartesian
origin.

Figure 2. Position ⃗ and velocity ⃗ of a spherical particle at time , relative to a rectangular


flat wall.

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

In the absence of external forces, the position of the particle at time is given by:

⃗( ) ⃗ ⃗
(1.1)

The particle will reach the plane of the rectangular wall when , and that will take place at
time (expected collision time):

(1.2)
Thus, the position of the particle when the plane of the wall is reached is:

⃗( ) ⃗ ⃗

(1.3)
Particularly, the -axis and -axis positions of the particle will be:

( )

(1.4)
( )

(1.5)

Thus, the particle will eventually hit the wall by moving from position ⃗ at velocity ⃗ if the
following conditions are simultaneously met:

(1.6)

| |

(1.7)

| |

(1.8)

Assuming that the particle is originally placed (by definition) at a positive perpendicular
distance to the wall ( ), then the previous conditions become:

(1.9)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

( ) ( )

(1.10)

( ) ( )

(1.11)

In the present report, the probability of a particle hitting the wall will be determined
considering that the velocity of the particle and eventually its initial position are randomly
distributed.

2. Particles with Random Velocity and Known Initial Position

Let us first assume that the initial position of the particles is still known, but their velocity is a
random variable. Expressing each component of the velocity in terms of a Type I standard
transformation [1] results in:

〈 〉
(2.1)

where 〈 〉 is the average velocity of a particle in the -th direction, is the standard
deviation of a particle velocity in the -th direction, and is a Type I standard random
variable, representing the random behavior of the particle velocity in the -th direction. Please
notice that represents a velocity and not a speed because it can take negative values.

The position of the particle at a certain time will be:

( ) 〈 〉
(2.2)

Given that can be described by the probability density function ( ), then the
probability density of the distribution of will be (from the change of variable theorem [2]):

( ) 〈 〉
〈 〉 ( )
( )
( ) ( )| |
( ) | |
(2.3)

Since the particle reaches the plane of the wall at a time , then

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

( ) 〈 〉
( )
( )
| |
(2.4)

The probability of hitting the wall, when the particle reaches the wall plane is given by:

( ) (( ( ) ) ( ( ) )| ) ∫ ∫ ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

( ) 〈 〉
∫ ∫ ( )

( ) 〈 〉
( ) ( ) ( )

(2.5)

This probability is conditional, since the time considered is exactly .

On the other hand, since the flight time required to reach the wall plane is also random (from
Eq. 1.2):

〈 〉
(2.6)
its probability density distribution is:

〈 〉 | |
( ) ( ( ))

(2.7)

Example 2.1. Uniform distribution of velocities

As a first example, let us assume that is a Type I standard uniform distribution.[3] Then the
probability of hitting the wall becomes:
( ) 〈 〉 ( ) 〈 〉
( ) ( )
√ √
( ) ∫ ∫ ( ) ( )
√ √
(2.8)
where is the rectangular or normalized boxcar function defined as:

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

| |
( ) {
| |
(2.9)
Thus, Eq. (2.8) can be expressed as:
( √ 〈 〉 ) ( √ 〈 〉 )
( ) ∫ ( )∫ ( )
( √ 〈 〉 ) ( √ 〈 〉 )

( ( √ 〈 〉 ) ( √ 〈 〉 ))

( ( √ 〈 〉 ) ( √ 〈 〉 ))

(2.10)

As a particular case, assuming that ,〈 〉 〈 〉 , and , we get:

( ) ( ( √ ) ( √ ))

( ( √ ) ( √ ))
(2.11)

Thus, we have:

√ √

√ √
( ) √

√ √

{ √ √
(2.12)

For the uniform distribution of velocity components, the probability density of becomes:

〈 〉
| | √

( )
〈 〉
| | √
{
(2.13)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Figure 3 shows the behavior of the probability of hitting a wall as a function of the term
( √ ).assuming that . As the initial position of the particle is closer to the wall
plane (while ), the variation in and is small ( ), and | | is large, such
that √ , then the probability of hitting the wall is 100%. As √ increases, the
probability of an effective hit is reduced inversely proportional to √ until it reaches the
value of . From that point on, the decrease in probability is inversely proportional to the
square of √ .

Figure 3. Probability of the particle hitting the wall of height and width , as a function
of the term √ , for a uniform random velocity in directions and , with zero mean and
identical standard deviation. The initial position of the particle is ( ).

Example 2.2. Normal distribution of velocities

Considering the random velocities on each direction to be represented by a normal


distribution, then the probability of hitting the wall becomes (from Eq. 2.5):

( ) 〈 〉 ( ) 〈 〉
( ) ( )

( ) ∫ ∫ ( ) ( )
√ √
〈 〉 〈 〉
( ( ) ( ))
√ √

〈 〉 〈 〉
( ( ) ( ))
√ √
(2.14)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

For the uniform distribution of velocity components, the probability density of becomes:

( 〈 〉 )

( )

(2.15)

Again, for the particular case where ,〈 〉 〈 〉 , and , the


probability of hitting the wall becomes:

( ) ( ) ( )
√ √
(2.16)

Figure 4 shows the behavior of the hitting probability for this normal distribution as a function
of √ , when .

Figure 4. Probability of the particle hitting the wall of height and width , as a
function of the term √ , for a uniform random velocity in directions and , with zero
mean and identical standard deviation. The initial position of the particle is ( ).

The results obtained for the uniform and normal distributions of velocities are compared in
Figure 5 as a function of the dimensionless term .

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Figure 5. Comparison of the probability of hitting the wall of height and width , as a
function of the term , by particles with Uniform (green solid line) and Normal (blue
dashed line) random velocities in directions and , with zero mean and identical standard
deviation. The initial position of the particle is ( ).

The term , can be interpreted as a measure of the relative fluctuation in the distance from
the center of the wall with respect to the wall size when the particle reaches the wall plane. For
values of , hitting the wall is practically certain for both distributions. By increasing
, the probability of hitting the wall start decreasing, being initially lower for the normal
distribution. At about both probabilities are identical with a value of 86.2%, and
afterwards the hitting probability of the uniform distribution is always lower than for the
normal distribution of velocities.

Finally, Figure 6 presents a comparison of the probability density function of time for both
uniform and normal distribution of velocity components, assuming 〈 〉 , distance
unit and distance unit per time unit.

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Figure 6. Comparison of the probability density function of time to wall plane ( ), considering
particles with Uniform (green solid line) and Normal (blue dashed line) random velocity
components. The initial position of the particle is ( ). 〈 〉 and .

3. Particles with Random Velocity and Random Initial Position

An additional level of complexity is introduced when the initial position of the particles is
unknown. Given that the initial position on each direction can be expressed as a random
variable as:

〈 〉
(3.1)
where 〈 〉 is the expected initial position of a particle in the -th direction, is the
standard deviation of the initial particle position in the -th direction, and is a Type I
standard random variable, representing the random behavior of the particle initial position in
the -th direction.

Then, the position of the particle at a certain time now becomes:

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
(3.2)

Using the multivariate change of variable theorem [2], it is again possible to obtain the
probability density function of ( ):

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ∫ ( ) ( )| |
( )

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
∫ ( ) ( )

| |
(3.3)

Eq. (3.3) is a general expression for describing the probability density function of the position
of a random particle over time.

Now, the corresponding hitting probability becomes:

( ) (( ( ) ) ( ( ) )| ) ∫ ∫ ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

∫ ∫ ∫ ∫ ( )

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ( )

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ( ) ( )

(3.4)

Eq. (3.4) describes the probability of collision of a particle with a finite flat wall, as a function of
the probability distribution of random initial positions and velocities, for a certain flight time
In spite of the complexity of dealing with four integrals, since the axis are independent, it can
be actually expressed as the product of two double integrals, as follows:

( ) ∫ ∫ ( )
[
( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ( )
]

( ) 〈 〉 〈 〉
∫ ∫ ( ) ( ) ( )
[ ]
(3.5)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Finally, since the flight time required to reach the wall plane is also random (from Eq. 1.2):

〈 〉
〈 〉
(3.6)

its probability density distribution is:

〈 〉 〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ∫ ( ) ( )| |

(3.7)

Example 3.1. Uniform distribution of initial positions and velocities

Assuming that the particle can be uniformly found in a square box of side , where the flat wall
is at the center of one of its sides, as depicted in Figure 7, and that the particle travels at a
constant speed , with a uniform distribution of its direction, then the hit probability becomes
(from Eq. 3.5):

(√ √ ( ( ) ))

( ) ∫ ∫ ( )
√ ( )
( √ ( ))
[ ]
(√ √ ( ( ) ))

( ) ( )
∫ ∫ ( )
√ ( ( ) ))
( √
[ ]
(3.8)

where 〈 〉 〈 〉 , , 〈 〉 〈 〉 〈 〉 , and

. For this particular example, 〈 〉 . is also assumed to be only positive. The

terms represented by and are the solutions of the double integrals.

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Figure 7. Square box containing a random particle, and a flat wall at the center of a side of the
box. The square box side is , and the dimensions of the wall are and .

They correspond to:



( ) {

(3.9)

( ) {

(3.10)

And the corresponding probability density distribution of is

(√ √ )
| |
( ) ∫ | | ∫ {

| |
( √ )

(3.11)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Assuming that one of the sides of the box corresponds to the wall, that is, , the hit
probabilities for random particles is given by:

( ) {

(3.12)
which is graphically presented in Figure 8:

Figure 8. Probability of the particle hitting the wall of side , as a function of the term , for a
uniform random velocity in directions and , with zero mean and identical standard deviation
(given a constant speed ). The initial position of the particle is uniformly distributed inside a
square box of side .

Example 3.2. Uniform distribution of initial positions, normal distribution of velocities

As a final example, let us consider that the velocity components of the particle are normally
distributed with an average particle speed 〈 〉, whereas the initial position are uniformly
distributed inside a square box of side . The wall will be considered to be located at the center
of the box, with a height and width . In this case, 〈 〉 〈 〉 〈 〉 ,

, 〈 〉 〈 〉 〈 〉 , and √ 〈 〉,[4] the hit



probability will be (from Eq. 3.5):

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

( )

√ √ 〈 〉
( )

( ) ∫ ∫ ( )
〈 〉 √ √

[ ]
( )

√ √ 〈 〉
( )

∫ ∫ ( )
√ √

[ ]
( ) ( )
√ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉

∫ ∫ ( ) ∫ ∫ ( )
√ √
( ) ( )

√ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉
[ ] [ ]
( ) ( )
[∫ ( ( ) ( )) ( )]
√ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉

( ) ( )
[∫ ( ( ) ( )) ( )]
√ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉

〈 〉 ( ) ( )
[( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) √ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉 ]
〈 〉 √ 〈 〉 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉
( ) ( )
[( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) √ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉 ]
〈 〉 √ 〈 〉 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉
(3.13)

The time distribution in this case is:

√ √
〈 〉 〈 〉
〈 〉 〈 〉
( ) ∫ | | ∫

〈 〉

〈 〉 ( )
( √ 〈 〉 )

(3.14)
For we get a special limiting case where:

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

〈 〉 ( )
( ) [ ( ) ( √ 〈 〉 )]
√ 〈 〉
(3.15)

And for , a second limiting case obtained is:

( ) [ ( )] [ ( )]
√ 〈 〉 √ 〈 〉

(3.16)
where is the ratio between the wall surface and the box face surface.

The two limiting cases are presented in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Probability of the particle hitting the wall of side relative to the surface fraction of
the wall , as a function of the term , for a normal random velocity in directions and ,
with zero mean and identical standard deviation (given an average speed 〈 〉). The initial
position of the particle is uniformly distributed inside a square box of side . Solid blue line:
Limiting case 1, when the wall has the size of one face of the box. Dashed red line: Limiting case
2, when the wall surface is negligible compared to the box face surface.

Finally, Figure 10 shows a comparison of the probability density function of the expected
collision time for both the uniform and normal distribution of velocity components of the
particles for a particular case where 〈 〉
unit of time.

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Figure 10. Comparison of the probability density function of expected collision time ( ),
considering particles with Uniform (green solid line) and Normal (blue dashed line) random
velocity components. 〈 〉 distance unit per time unit and distance unit.

4. Final Remark

The results obtained so far, regarding the probability of hit between a random inertial particle
and a flat rectangular wall show that the such probability tend to remain constant for short
times to begin decreasing until a zero hit probability is reached for infinite times. This behavior
is clearly the result of assuming that the particles in the original box may abandon such box and
continue its motion without interruption. However, if the box has other neighbor systems that
continuously exchange particles, or if the box has solid boundaries which force the particles to
remain inside (keeping a constant particle density), then the geometrical situation slightly
changes. In this case, it can be assumed that every time the system is disturbed (incoming
particles or bouncing at the box boundaries), the time counter can be reset. If such those
disturbances are fast enough, and if the distribution of positions and velocities remain similar
all the time, it can be argued that the probability that a particle reaching the wall plane hits the
wall remains constant at the value given by the limit . In simple words, the probability of
collision corresponds to the surface ratio between the rectangular wall and the box side
parallel to the wall:
( )
(4.1)

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Probability of Collision of Random Inertial Particles with a Flat Wall
Hugo Hernandez
ForsChem Research
hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

Acknowledgments

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public,
commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

References

[1] Hernandez, H. (2018). Multidimensional Randomness, Standard Random Variables and


Variance Algebra. ForsChem Research Reports 2018-02. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.11902.48966.

[2] Hernandez, H. (2017). Multivariate Probability Theory: Determination of Probability Density


Functions. ForsChem Research Reports 2017-13. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28214.60481.

[3] Hernandez, H. (2018). Expected Value, Variance and Covariance of Natural Powers of
Representative Standard Random Variables. ForsChem Research Reports 2018-08. doi:
10.13140/RG.2.2.15187.07205.

[4] Hernandez, H. (2017). Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution: Definition and properties.


ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29888.74244.

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