Electric-field-induced displacement of a charged spherical colloid embedded in an elastic Brinkman medium

Reghan J. Hill, M. Ostoja-Starzewski

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When an electric field is applied to an electrolyte-saturated polymer gel embedded with charged colloidal particles, the force that must be exerted by the hydrogel on each particle reflects a delicate balance of electrical, hydrodynamic, and elastic stresses. This paper examines the displacement of a single charged spherical inclusion embedded in an uncharged hydrogel. We present numerically exact solutions of coupled electrokinetic transport and elastic-deformation equations, where the gel is treated as an incompressible, elastic Brinkman medium. This model problem demonstrates how the displacement depends on the particle size and charge, the electrolyte ionic strength, and Young's modulus of the polymer skeleton. The numerics are verified, in part, with an analytical (boundary-layer) theory valid when the Debye length is much smaller than the particle radius. Finally, we identify a close connection between the displacement when a colloid is immobilized in a gel and its velocity (electrophoretic mobility) when dispersed in a Newtonian electrolyte.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011404
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 25 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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