Influence of nonelectrostatic ion-ion interactions on double-layer capacitance.

Research paper by Hui H Zhao

Indexed on: 12 Dec '12Published on: 12 Dec '12Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


Recently a Poisson-Helmholtz-Boltzmann (PHB) model [Bohinc et al., Phys. Rev. E 85, 031130 (2012)] was developed by accounting for solvent-mediated nonelectrostatic ion-ion interactions. Nonelectrostatic interactions are described by a Yukawa-like pair potential. In the present work, we modify the PHB model by adding steric effects (finite ion size) into the free energy to derive governing equations. The modified PHB model is capable of capturing both ion specificity and ion crowding. This modified model is then employed to study the capacitance of the double layer. More specifically, we focus on the influence of nonelectrostatic ion-ion interactions on charging a double layer near a flat surface in the presence of steric effects. We numerically compute the differential capacitance as a function of the voltage under various conditions. At small voltages and low salt concentrations (dilute solution), we find out that the predictions from the modified PHB model are the same as those from the classical Poisson-Boltzmann theory, indicating that nonelectrostatic ion-ion interactions and steric effects are negligible. At moderate voltages, nonelectrostatic ion-ion interactions play an important role in determining the differential capacitance. Generally speaking, nonelectrostatic interactions decrease the capacitance because of additional nonelectrostatic repulsion among excess counterions inside the double layer. However, increasing the voltage gradually favors steric effects, which induce a condensed layer with crowding of counterions near the electrode. Accordingly, the predictions from the modified PHB model collapse onto those computed by the modified Poisson-Boltzmann theory considering steric effects alone. Finally, theoretical predictions are compared and favorably agree with experimental data, in particular, in concentrated solutions, leading one to conclude that the modified PHB model adequately predicts the diffuse-charge dynamics of the double layer with ion specificity and steric effects.