Viscoelectric Effects in Nanochannels

Research paper by Wei-Lun Hsu, Dalton J. E. Harvie, Malcolm R. Davidson, David E. Dunstan, Junho Hwang, Hirofumi Daiguji

Indexed on: 08 Nov '16Published on: 08 Nov '16Published in: arXiv - Physics - Fluid Dynamics


Electrokinetic transport behavior in nanochannels is different to that in larger sized channels. Specifically, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in nanochannels have demonstrated two barely understood phenomena which are not observed in microchannels, being: (i) the decrease of average electroosmotic mobility at high surface charge density, and (ii) the decrease of channel conductance at high salt concentrations, as the surface charge is increased. However, current electric double layer models do not capture these results. In this study we provide evidence that this inconsistency primarily arises from the neglect of the viscoelectric effect (being the increase of local viscosity near charged surfaces due to water molecule orientation) in conventional continuum models. It is shown that predictions of electroosmotic mobility in a slit nanochannel, derived from a viscoelectric-modified continuum model, are in quantitative agreement with previous MD simulation results. Furthermore, viscoelectric effects are found to dominate over ion steric and dielectric saturation effects in both electroosmotic and ion transport processes. Finally, we indicate that mechanisms of the previous MD-observed phenomena can be well-explained by the viscoelectric theory.