215 research outputs found

    Controlling turbulent drag across electrolytes using electric fields

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    Reversible in operando control of friction is an unsolved challenge crucial to industrial tribology. Recent studies show that at low sliding velocities, this control can be achieved by applying an electric field across electrolyte lubricants. However, the phenomenology at high sliding velocities is yet unknown. In this paper, we investigate the hydrodynamic friction across electrolytes under shear beyond the transition to turbulence. We develop a novel, highly parallelised, numerical method for solving the coupled Navier-Stokes Poisson-Nernest-Planck equation. Our results show that turbulent drag cannot be controlled across dilute electrolyte using static electric fields alone. The limitations of the Poisson-Nernst-Planck formalism hints at ways in which turbulent drag could be controlled using electric fields.Comment: Accepted by the Faraday Discussions on Chemical Physics of Electroactive Material

    Degenerate Mobilities in Phase Field Models are Insufficient to Capture Surface Diffusion

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    Phase field models frequently provide insight to phase transitions, and are robust numerical tools to solve free boundary problems corresponding to the motion of interfaces. A body of prior literature suggests that interface motion via surface diffusion is the long-time, sharp interface limit of microscopic phase field models such as the Cahn-Hilliard equation with a degenerate mobility function. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, we show that the long-time behaviour of degenerate Cahn-Hilliard equation with a polynomial free energy undergoes coarsening, reflecting the presence of bulk diffusion, rather than pure surface diffusion. This reveals an important limitation of phase field models that are frequently used to model surface diffusion

    The Electrostatic Screening Length in Concentrated Electrolytes Increases with Concentration

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    According to classical electrolyte theories interactions in dilute (low ion density) electrolytes decay exponentially with distance, with the Debye screening length the characteristic length-scale. This decay length decreases monotonically with increasing ion concentration, due to effective screening of charges over short distances. Thus within the Debye model no long-range forces are expected in concentrated electrolytes. Here we reveal, using experimental detection of the interaction between two planar charged surfaces across a wide range of electrolytes, that beyond the dilute (Debye-Huuckel) regime the screening length increases with increasing concentration. The screening lengths for all electrolytes studied - including aqueous NaCl solutions, ionic liquids diluted with propylene carbonate, and pure ionic liquids - collapse onto a single curve when scaled by the dielectric constant. This non-monotonic variation of the screening length with concentration, and its generality across ionic liquids and aqueous salt solutions, demonstrates an important characteristic of concentrated electrolytes of substantial relevance from biology to energy storage.Comment: This document is the unedited authors' version of a Submitted Work that was subsequently accepted for publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, copyright American Chemical Society, after peer review. To access the final edited and published work see http://pubsdc3.acs.org/articlesonrequest/AOR-EW6FuIC6wIh6D9qqEeH

    Fluctuation Spectra and Force Generation in Non-equilibrium Systems

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    Many biological systems are appropriately viewed as passive inclusions immersed in an active bath: from proteins on active membranes to microscopic swimmers confined by boundaries. The non-equilibrium forces exerted by the active bath on the inclusions or boundaries often regulate function, and such forces may also be exploited in artificial active materials. Nonetheless, the general phenomenology of these active forces remains elusive. We show that the fluctuation spectrum of the active medium, the partitioning of energy as a function of wavenumber, controls the phenomenology of force generation. We find that for a narrow, unimodal spectrum, the force exerted by a non-equilibrium system on two embedded walls depends on the width and the position of the peak in the fluctuation spectrum, and oscillates between repulsion and attraction as a function of wall separation. We examine two apparently disparate examples: the Maritime Casimir effect and recent simulations of active Brownian particles. A key implication of our work is that important non-equilibrium interactions are encoded within the fluctuation spectrum. In this sense the noise becomes the signal

    Unravelling Nanoconfined Films of Ionic Liquids

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    The confinement of an ionic liquid between charged solid surfaces is treated using an exactly solvable 1D Coulomb gas model. The theory highlights the importance of two dimensionless parameters: the fugacity of the ionic liquid, and the electrostatic interaction energy of ions at closest approach relative to thermal energy, in determining how the disjoining pressure exerted on the walls depends on the geometrical confinement. Our theory reveals that thermodynamic fluctuations play a vital role in the "squeezing out" of charged layers as the confinement is increased. The model shows good qualitative agreement with previous experimental data, with all parameters independently estimated without fitting

    Scaling analysis of the screening length in concentrated electrolytes

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    The interaction between charged objects in an electrolyte solution is a fundamental question in soft matter physics. It is well-known that the electrostatic contribution to the interaction energy decays exponentially with object separation. Recent measurements reveal that, contrary to the conventional wisdom given by classic Poisson-Boltzmann theory, the decay length increases with ion concentration for concentrated electrolytes and can be an order of magnitude larger than the ion diameter in ionic liquids. We derive a simple scaling theory that explains this anomalous dependence of the decay length on ion concentration. Our theory successfully collapses the decay lengths of a wide class of salts onto a single curve. A novel prediction of our theory is that the decay length increases linearly with the Bjerrum length, which we experimentally verify by surface force measurements. Moreover, we quantitatively relate the measured decay length to classic measurements of the activity coefficient in concentrated electrolytes, thus showing that the measured decay length is indeed a bulk property of the concentrated electrolyte as well as contributing a mechanistic insight into empirical activity coefficients.Comment: To appear in Physical Review Letter