Surface polarization in ion-containing heterogeneous dielectric media such as cell media and emulsions is determined by and determines the positions of the ions. We compute the surface polarization self-consistently as the ions move and analyze their effects on the interactions between electro-neutral, ion-containing droplets using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations based on the true energy functional. For water droplets immersed in oil, the interdroplet interaction is attractive, and the surface polarization makes the major contribution. By contrast, for oil droplets in water, the ion-surface induced charge interaction is repulsive and counteracts the attraction between the ions, leading to a small attractive interaction between the droplets. This research improves our understanding of self-assembly in mixed phases such as metal extraction for recovering rare earth elements and nuclear waste as well as water purification.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)