In the study of colloidal, biological and electrochemical systems, it is customary to treat surfaces, macromolecules and electrodes as homogeneously charged. This simplified approach is proven successful in most cases, but fails to describe a wide range of heterogeneously charged surfaces commonly used in experiments. For example, recent experiments have revealed a long-range attraction between overall neutral surfaces, locally charged in a mosaic-like structure of positively and negatively charged domains (“patches”). Here, we review experimental and theoretical studies addressing the stability of heterogeneously charged surfaces, their effect on ionic profiles in solution, and the interaction between two such surfaces. We focus on electrostatics, and highlight the important new physical parameters appearing in the heterogeneous case, such as the largest patch size and inter-surface charge correlations.
- Heterogeneously charged surfaces
- Hydrophobic surfaces
- Ionic solutions
- Poisson-Boltzmann theory
- Surface forces