Electrostatic attraction between neutral microdroplets by ion fluctuations

Yu Jane Sheng, Heng Kwong Tsao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The interaction between two aqueous droplets containing ions is investigated. The ion-fluctuation correlation gives rise to attraction between two neutral microdroplets, similar to the van der Waals interaction between neutral atoms. Electrostatic attraction consists of contributions from various induced multipole-multipole interactions, including dipole-dipole [Formula Presented], dipole-quadrupole [Formula Presented], dipole-octupole [Formula Presented], and quadrupole-quadrupole interactions [Formula Presented]. The mean-square multipole moments are determined analytically by linear response theory. The fluctuation-driven attraction is so strong at short distance that it may dominate over the Coulomb repulsion between like-charged droplets. These theoretical results are confirmed by Monte Carlo simulations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2004


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