Dipolar Poisson-Boltzmann approach to ionic solutions: A mean field and loop expansion analysis

Amir Levy, David Andelman, Henri Orland

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We study the variation of the dielectric response of ionic aqueous solutions as function of their ionic strength. The effect of salt on the dielectric constant appears through the coupling between ions and dipolar water molecules. On a mean-field level, we account for any internal charge distribution of particles. The dipolar degrees of freedom are added to the ionic ones and result in a generalization of the Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) equation called the Dipolar PB (DPB). By looking at the DPB equation around a fixed point-like ion, a closed-form formula for the dielectric constant is obtained. We express the dielectric constant using the "hydration length" that characterizes the hydration shell of dipoles around ions, and thus the strength of the dielectric decrement. The DPB equation is then examined for three additional cases: mixture of solvents, polarizable medium, and ions of finite size. Employing field-theoretical methods, we expand the Gibbs free-energy to first order in a loop expansion and calculate self-consistently the dielectric constant. For pure water, the dipolar fluctuations represent an important correction to the mean-field value and good agreement with the water dielectric constant is obtained. For ionic solutions we predict analytically the dielectric decrement that depends on the ionic strength in a nonlinear way. Our prediction fits rather well a large range of concentrations for different salts using only one fit parameter related to the size of ions and dipoles. A linear dependence of the dielectric constant on the salt concentration is observed at low salinity, and a noticeable deviation from linearity can be seen for ionic strength above 1 M, in agreement with experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164909
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2013


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