On the theory of dielectric spectroscopy of protein solutions

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11 Scopus citations


We present a theory of the dielectric response of solutions containing large solutes, of the nanometer size, in a molecular solvent. It combines the molecular dipole moment of the solute with the polarization of a large subensemble of solvent molecules at the solute-solvent interface. The goal of the theory is two-fold: (i)to formulate the problem of the dielectric response avoiding the reliance on the cavity-field susceptibility of dielectric theories and (ii)to separate the non-additive polarization of the interface, jointly produced by the external field of the laboratory experiment and the solute, from specific solute-solvent interactions contributing to the dielectric signal. The theory is applied to experimentally reported frequency-dependent dielectric spectra of lysozyme in solution. The analysis of the data in the broad range of frequencies up to 700GHz shows that the cavity-field susceptibility, critical for the theory formulation, is consistent with the prediction of Maxwells electrostatics in the frequency range of 10-200GHz, but deviates from it outside this range. In particular, it becomes much smaller than the Maxwell result, and shifts to negative values, at small frequencies. The latter observation implies a dia-electric response, or negative dielectrophoresis, of hydrated lysozyme. It also implies that the effective protein dipole recorded by dielectric spectroscopy is much smaller than the value calculated from the proteins charge distribution. We suggest an empirical equation that describes both the increment of the static dielectric constant and the decrement of the Debye water peak with increasing protein concentration. It gives fair agreement with broad-band dispersion and loss spectra of protein solutions, but misses the δ-dispersion region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number325105
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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