Differential Capacitance of Electric Double Layers: A Poisson-Bikerman Formula

Research paper by Ren-Chuen Chen, Chin-Lung Li, Jen-Hao Chen, Bob Eisenberg, Jinn-Liang Liu

Indexed on: 25 Dec '20Published on: 24 Dec '20Published in: arXiv - Physics - Soft Condensed Matter


We propose a Poisson-Bikerman (PBik) formula for calculating the differential capacitance (DC) of electrical double layers (EDLs) in aqueous electrolytes or ionic liquids. The PBik theory is a generalization of the classical Poisson-Boltzmann theory to include different steric energies of different-sized ions and water similar to different electrical energies for different-charged ions. Water and ions with interstitial voids in this molecular mean field theory have their physical volumes as they do in molecular dynamics simulations. The PBik formula derived from Fermi distributions of ions and water in arbitrary shape and volume reduces to the Bikerman-Freise formula derived from the lattice model of equal-sized ions. The DC curves predicted by the Gouy-Chapman formula are U-shaped (for point-like ions with zero volume and very dilute solutions). The curves change from U shape to camel shape (Bactrian) and then to bell shape (for finite size ions) as the volume fraction of ions and water changes from zero to medium value then to large value. The transition is characterized by critical and inflection voltages in terms of the particle volume fraction. These voltages determine steric and electrical energies that describe the space/charge competition and saturation properties of ions and water packed in the condensed layer of EDLs under high field conditions. Steric energy is as important as electrical energy in these conditions. PBik computes symmetric DC curves from delicately balanced steric interactions of asymmetric-size ions and water like the experimental data of KPF6 in aqueous solution. It computes asymmetric curves and captures delicately balanced steric or electrical interactions of ions having different volumes or charges in ionic liquids.