Comparison of Molecular and Primitive Solvent Models for Electrical Double Layers in Nanochannels

JW Lee and JA Templeton and KK Mandadapu and JA Zimmerman, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL THEORY AND COMPUTATION, 9, 3051-3061 (2013).

DOI: 10.1021/ct4002043

In a recent article (Lee et al. J. Comput. Theor. Chem., 2012, 8, 2012-2022.), it was shown that an electrolyte solution can be modeled in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using a uniform dielectric constant in place of a polar solvent to validate Fluid Density Functional Theory (f-DFT) simulations. This technique can be viewed as a coarse-grained approximation of the polar solvent and reduces computational cost by an order of magnitude. However, the consequences of replacing the polar solvent with an effective permittivity are not well characterized, despite its common usage in f-DFT, Monte Carlo simulation, and Poisson Boltzmann theory. In this paper, we have examined two solvent models of different fidelities with MD simulation of nanochannels. We find that the models produce qualitatively similar ion density profiles, but physical quantities such as electric field, electric potential, and capacitance differ by over an order of magnitude. In all cases, the bulk is explicitly modeled so that surface properties can be evaluated relative to a reference state. Moreover, quantities that define the reference state, such as bulk ion density, bulk solvent density, applied electric field and temperature are measurable, so cases with the same thermodynamic state can be compared. Insights into the solvent arrangement, most of which can not be determined from the coarse- grained. model, are drawn from the model with an explicitly described polar solvent.

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