Electric field inside a Rossky cavity in uniformly polarized water

Daniel R. Martin, Allan D. Friesen, Dmitry Matyushov

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23 Scopus citations


Electric field produced inside a solute by a uniformly polarized liquid is strongly affected by dipolar polarization of the liquid at the interface. We show, by numerical simulations, that the electric cavity field inside a hydrated non-polar solute does not follow the predictions of standard Maxwells electrostatics of dielectrics. Instead, the field inside the solute tends, with increasing solute size, to the limit predicted by the Lorentz virtual cavity. The standard paradigm fails because of its reliance on the surface charge density at the dielectric interface determined by the boundary conditions of the Maxwell dielectric. The interface of a polar liquid instead carries a preferential in-plane orientation of the surface dipoles thus producing virtually no surface charge. The resulting boundary conditions for electrostatic problems differ from the traditional recipes, affecting the microscopic and macroscopic fields based on them. We show that relatively small differences in cavity fields propagate into significant differences in the dielectric constant of an ideal mixture. The slope of the dielectric increment of the mixture versus the solute concentration depends strongly on which polarization scenario at the interface is realized. A much steeper slope found in the case of Lorentz interfacial polarization also implies a higher free energy penalty for polarizing such mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084514
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 28 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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