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Can we describe charged nanoparticles with electrolyte theories? Insight from mesoscopic simulation techniques

Abstract : Electrolyte theories enable to describe the structural and dynamical properties of simple elec-trolytes in solution, such as sodium chloride in water. Using these theories for aqueous solutions of charged nanoparticles is a straightforward route to extract their charge and size from experimental data. Nevertheless, for such strongly asymmetric electrolytes, the validity of the underlying approximations have never been properly challenged with exact simulation results. In the present work, well established mesoscopic numerical simulations are used to challenge the ability of advanced elec-trolyte theories to predict the electrical conductivity of suspensions of charged nanoparticles, in the salt-free case. The theories under investigation are based on the Debye-Fuoss-Onsager treatment of electrolyte transport. When the nanoparticles are small enough (about one nanometer large), the theoretical results agree remarkably well with the simulation ones, even in the high concentration regime (packing fraction of in nanoparticles larger than 3%). Strikingly, for highly charged nanoparticles, the theory is able to capture the non-monotonic variation of the ratio of the electrical conductivity to its value at infinite dilution (ideal value) as a function of the concentration. However, the tested theories fail to describe the conductivity of suspensions containing larger nanoparticles (e.g. of diameter 4 nm). Finally, only small charged nanoparticles can be considered as ions, as far as electrolyte theories are concerned.
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Submitted on : Friday, January 31, 2020 - 2:42:02 PM
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Vincent Dahirel, Olivier Bernard, Marie Jardat. Can we describe charged nanoparticles with electrolyte theories? Insight from mesoscopic simulation techniques. Journal of Molecular Liquids, Elsevier, 2019, pp.111942. ⟨10.1016/j.molliq.2019.111942⟩. ⟨hal-02462697⟩

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