Correlation potential of a test ion near a strongly charged plate

Bing Sui Lu*, Xiangjun Xing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We analytically calculate the correlation potential of a test ion near a strongly charged plate inside a dilute m:-n electrolyte. We do this by calculating the electrostatic Green's function in the presence of a nonlinear background potential, the latter having been obtained using the nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann theory. We consider the general case where the dielectric constants of the plate and the electrolyte are distinct. The following generic results emerge from our analyses: (1) If the distance to the plate Δz is much larger than a Gouy-Chapman length, the plate surface will behave effectively as an infinitely charged surface, and the dielectric constant of the plate effectively plays no role. (2) If Δz is larger than a Gouy-Chapman length but shorter than a Debye length, the correlation potential can be interpreted in terms of an image charge that is three times larger than the source charge. This behavior is independent of the valences of the ions. (3) The Green's function vanishes inside the plate if the surface charge density is infinitely large; hence the electrostatic potential is constant there. In this respect, a strongly charged plate behaves like a conductor plate. (4) If Δz is smaller than a Gouy-Chapman length, the correlation potential is dominated by the conventional image charge due to the dielectric discontinuity at the interface. (5) If Δz is larger than a Debye length, the leading order behavior of the correlation potential will depend on the valences of the ions in the electrolyte. Furthermore, inside an asymmetric electrolyte, the correlation potential is singly screened, i.e., it undergoes exponential decay with a decay width equal to the Debye length.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032305
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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