Charge inversion is a widely observed phenomenon. It is a result of the rich statistical mechanics of the molecular interactions between ions, solvent, and charged surfaces near electric double layers (EDLs). Electrostatic correlations between ions and hydration interactions between ions and water molecules play a dominant role in determining the distribution of ions in EDLs. Due to highly polar nature of water, near a surface, an inhomogeneous and anisotropic arrangement of water molecules gives rise to pronounced variations in the electrostatic and hydration energies of ions. Classical continuum theories fail to accurately describe electrostatic correlations and molecular effects of water in EDLs. In this work, we present an empirical potential based quasi-continuum theory (EQT) to accurately predict the molecular-level properties of aqueous electrolytes. In EQT, we employ rigorous statistical mechanics tools to incorporate interatomic interactions, long-range electrostatics, correlations, and orientation polarization effects at a continuum-level. Explicit consideration of atomic interactions of water molecules is both theoretically and numerically challenging. We develop a systematic coarse-graining approach to coarse-grain interactions of water molecules and electrolyte ions from a high-resolution atomistic scale to the continuum scale. To demonstrate the ability of EQT to incorporate the water orientation polarization, ion hydration, and electrostatic correlations effects, we simulate confined KCl aqueous electrolyte and show that EQT can accurately predict the distribution of ions in a thin EDL and also predict the complex phenomenon of charge inversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number214102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 7 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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