Theory and Modelling of Electrolytes and Chain Molecules

  • Ming Li

Student thesis: Phd


An aqueous solution of electrolytes can be modelled simplistically as charged hard spheresdispersed in a dielectric continuum. We review various classical theories for hard sphere systems including the Percus-Yevick theory, the mean spherical approximation, the Debye-Hückel theory and the hyper-netted chain theory, and we compare the predictions of the theories with simulation results. The statistical associating fluid theory (SAFT) has proved to be accurate for neutral polymers. It is modified to cope with charged polyelectrolyte systems. A chain term for the charged reference fluid is introduced into the theory. Some well-established results are reproduced in this study and we also introduce new terms and discuss their effects. The results show that the SAFT is semi-quantitatively correct in predicting the phase behaviour of polyelectrolytes. The electrostatic attraction between unlike charged particles at low temperature is very strong. The short-range attractions between unlike pairs are treated via an association theory while the remaining interactions are handled by hypernetted chain theory. This method works quite well with multiple associating sites. The phase prediction for the size and charge symmetric restricted primitive model is quantitatively correct as compared with simulation results. Furthermore, it also gives semi-quantitatively correct predictions for the phase behaviour of size- and charge-asymmetric cases. Dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) is a powerful simulation technique for mesoscopic systems. Molecules with specific shapes (rods and spheres) are simulated using this technique.By tuning the density of the system, some liquid crystal phase transitions can be observed.The properties of spider silk fibroin are also modelled by DPD, indicating a possible route offorming spider silk.
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAndrew Masters (Supervisor)


  • electrolyte, hypernetted chain, association, dissipative particle dynamics

Cite this