Regular Article – Soft Matter
Rigorous treatment of pairwise and many-body electrostatic interactions among dielectric spheres at the Debye–Hückel level
National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 20894, Bethesda, MD, USA
2 The A.F. Ioffe Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
Accepted: 20 September 2021
Published online: 18 October 2021
Electrostatic interactions among colloidal particles are often described using the venerable (two-particle) Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) approximation and its various modifications. However, until the recent development of a many-body theory exact at the Debye–Hückel level (Yu in Phys Rev E 102:052404, 2020), it was difficult to assess the errors of such approximations and impossible to assess the role of many-body effects. By applying the exact Debye–Hückel level theory, we quantify the errors inherent to DLVO and the additional errors associated with replacing many-particle interactions by the sum of pairwise interactions (even when the latter are calculated exactly). In particular, we show that: (1) the DLVO approximation does not provide sufficient accuracy at shorter distances, especially when there is an asymmetry in charges and/or sizes of interacting dielectric spheres; (2) the pairwise approximation leads to significant errors at shorter distances and at large and moderate Debye lengths and also gets worse with increasing asymmetry in the size of the spheres or magnitude or placement of the charges. We also demonstrate that asymmetric dielectric screening, i.e., the enhanced repulsion between charged dielectric bodies immersed in media with high dielectric constant, is preserved in the presence of free ions in the medium.
© This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2021
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