Indexed on: 17 Sep '13Published on: 17 Sep '13Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
We present a theory of effective electrostatic interactions in polydisperse suspensions of charged macroions, generalizing to mixtures a theory previously developed for monodisperse suspensions. Combining linear response theory with a random phase approximation for microion correlations, we coarse grain the microion degrees of freedom to derive general expressions for effective macroion-macroion pair potentials and a one-body volume energy. For model mixtures of charged hard-sphere colloids, we give explicit analytical expressions. The resulting effective pair potentials have the same general form as predicted by linearized Poisson-Boltzmann theory, but consistently incorporate dependence on macroion density and excluded volume via the Debye screening constant. The volume energy, which depends on the average macroion density, contributes to the free energy and so can influence thermodynamic properties of deionized suspensions. To validate the theory, we compute radial distribution functions of binary mixtures of oppositely charged colloidal macroions from molecular dynamics simulations of the coarse-grained model (with implicit microions), taking effective pair potentials as input. Our results agree closely with corresponding results from more computationally intensive Monte Carlo simulations of the primitive model (with explicit microions). Simulations of a mixture with large size and charge asymmetries indicate that charged nanoparticles can enhance electrostatic screening of charged colloids. The theory presented here lays a foundation for future large-scale modeling of complex mixtures of charged colloids, nanoparticles, and polyelectrolytes.