In this work, we treat the Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) equations as the basis for a consistent framework of the electrokinetic effects. The static limit of the PNP equations is shown to be the charge-conserving Poisson-Boltzmann (CCPB) equation, with guaranteed charge neutrality within the computational domain. We propose a surface potential trap model that attributes an energy cost to the interfacial charge dissociation. In conjunction with the CCPB, the surface potential trap can cause a surface-specific adsorbed charge layer σ. By defining a chemical potential μ that arises from the charge neutrality constraint, a reformulated CCPB can be reduced to the form of the Poisson-Boltzmann equation, whose prediction of the Debye screening layer profile is in excellent agreement with that of the Poisson-Boltzmann equation when the channel width is much larger than the Debye length. However, important differences emerge when the channel width is small, so the Debye screening layers from the opposite sides of the channel overlap with each other. In particular, the theory automatically yields a variation of σ that is generally known as the "charge regulation" behavior, attendant with predictions of force variation as a function of nanoscale separation between two charged surfaces that are in good agreement with the experiments, with no adjustable or additional parameters. We give a generalized definition of the ξ potential that reflects the strength of the electrokinetic effect; its variations with the concentration of surface-specific and surfacenonspecific salt ions are shown to be in good agreement with the experiments. To delineate the behavior of the electro-osmotic (EO) effect, the coupled PNP and Navier-Stokes equations are solved numerically under an applied electric field tangential to the fluid-solid interface. The EO effect is shown to exhibit an intrinsic time dependence that is noninertial in its origin. Under a step-function applied electric field, a pulse of fluid flow is followed by relaxation to a new ion distribution, owing to the diffusive counter current. We have numerically evaluated the Onsager coefficients associated with the EO effect, L21, and its reverse streaming potential effect, L12, and show that L12 = L21 in accordance with the Onsager relation. We conclude by noting some of the challenges ahead.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy