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Published September 28, 2013 | Published
Journal Article Open

Effects of image charges on double layer structure and forces


The study of the electrical double layer lies at the heart of soft matter physics and biophysics. Here, we address the effects of the image charges on the double layer structure and forces. For electrolyte solutions between two neutral plates, we show that depletion of the salt ions by the image charge repulsion results in short-range attractive and long-range repulsive forces. If cations and anions are of different valency, the asymmetric depletion leads to the formation of an induced electrical double layer. In comparison to a 1:1 electrolyte solution, both the attractive and the repulsive parts of the interaction are stronger for the 2:1 electrolyte solution. For two charged plates, the competition between the surface charge and the image charge effect can give rise to like-charge attraction and charge inversion. These results are in stark contrast with predictions from the Poisson-Boltzmann theory.

Additional Information

© 2013 AIP Publishing LLC. Received 30 March 2013; accepted 4 September 2013; published online 24 September 2013.

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