Electrostatic interactions of asymmetrically charged membranes

Dan Ben-Yaakov*, Yoram Burak, David Andelman, S. A. Safran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We predict the nature (attractive or repulsive) and range (exponentially screened or long-range power law) of the electrostatic interactions of oppositely charged, planar plates as a function of the salt concentration and surface charge densities (whose absolute magnitudes are not necessarily equal). An analytical expression for the crossover between attractive and repulsive pressure is obtained as a function of the salt concentration. This condition reduces to the high-salt limit of Parsegian and Gingell where the interaction is exponentially screened and to the zero salt limit of Lau and Pincus in which the important length scales are the inter-plate separation and the Gouy-Chapman length. In the regime of low salt and high surface charges we predict - for any ratio of the charges on the surfaces - that the attractive pressure is long-ranged as a function of the spacing. The attractive pressure is related to the decrease in counter-ion concentration as the inter-plate distance is decreased. Our theory predicts several scaling regimes with different scaling expressions for the pressure as a function of salinity and surface charge densities. The pressure predictions can be related to surface force experiments of oppositely charged surfaces that are prepared by coating one of the mica surfaces with an oppositely charged polyelectrolyte.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number48002
JournalLettere Al Nuovo Cimento
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


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