Electrostatics of liquid interfaces

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21 Scopus citations


The standard Maxwell formulation of the problem of polarized dielectrics suffers from a number of difficulties, both conceptual and practical. These difficulties are particularly significant for liquid interfaces. For these systems, the ability of interfacial multipoles to change their orientations leads to the interfacial polarization localized within a thin microscopic layer. A formalism to capture this physical reality is proposed and is based on the surface charge as the source of microscopic electric fields in dielectrics. The surface charge density incorporates the local structure of the interface into electrostatic calculations. The corresponding surface susceptibility and interface dielectric constant provide local closures to the electrostatic boundary value problem. A robust approach to calculate the surface susceptibility from numerical simulations is formulated. The susceptibility can alternatively be extracted from a number of solution experiments, in particular those sensitive to the overall dipole moment of a closed dielectric surface. The theory is applied to the solvent-induced spectral shift and high-frequency dielectric response of solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224506
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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