**28**: 419-440

https://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2008-10436-x

Regular Article

## Correlation effects, image charge effects and finite size in the macro-ion-electrolyte system: A field-theoretic approach

Max-Planck Institut für Physik Komplexer Systeme, Nöthnizer Str. 38, D-01187, Dresden, Germany

^{*} e-mail: lee@mpipks-dresden.mpg.de

Received:
27
May
2008

Revised:
20
October
2008

Accepted:
29
January
2009

Published online:
1
May
2009

We consider a model of a macro-ion surrounded by small ions of an electrolyte solution. The finite size of ionic charge distributions of ions, and image charge effects are considered. From such a model it is possible to construct a statistical field theory with a single fluctuating field and derive physical interpretations for both the mean field and two-point correlation function. For point-like charges, at the level of a Gaussian (or saddle point) approximation, we recover the standard Poisson-Boltzmann equation. However, to include ionic correlation effects, as well as image charge effects of individual ions, we must go beyond this. From the field theory considered, it is possible to construct self-consistent approximations. We consider the simplest of these, namely the Hartree approximation. The Hartree equations take the form of two coupled equations. One is a modified Poisson-Boltzmann equation; the other describes both image charge effects on the individual ions, as well as correlations. Such equations are difficult to solve numerically, so we develop an (a WKB-like) approximation for obtaining approximate solutions. This, we apply to a uniformly charged rod in univalent electrolyte solution, for point like ions, as well as for extended spherically symmetric distributions of ionic charge on electrolyte ions. The solutions show how correlation effects and image charge effects modify the Poisson-Boltzmann result. Finite-size charge distributions of the ions reduce both the effects of correlations and image charge effects. For point charges, we test the WKB approximation by calculating a leading-order correction from the exact Hartree result, showing that the WKB-like approximation works reasonably well in describing the full solution to the Hartree equations. From these solutions, we also calculate an effective charge compensation parameter in an analytical formula for the interaction of two charged cylinders.

PACS: 61.20.Qg Structure of associated liquids: electrolytes, molten salts, etc. – / 61.20.Gy Theory and models of liquid structure – / 82.35.Rs Polyelectrolytes –

*© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2009*