Non-mean-field screening by multivalent counterions

M. S. Loth, B. I. Shklovskii

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Screening of a strongly charged macroion by its multivalent counterions cannot be described in the framework of a mean-field Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) theory because multivalent counterions form a strongly correlated liquid (SCL) on the surface of the macroion. It was predicted that a distant counterion polarizes the SCL as if it were a metallic surface and creates an electrostatic image. The attractive potential energy of the image is the reason why the charge density of counterions decreases faster with distance from the charged surface than in PB theory. Using the Monte Carlo method to find the equilibrium distribution of counterions around the macroion, we confirm the existence of the image potential energy. It is also shown that, due to the negative screening length of the SCL, -2ξ, the effective metallic surface is actually above the SCL by |ξ|.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number424104
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 21 2009

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