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Hybrid continuum-atomistic approach to model electrokinetics in nanofluidics

Amani, Ehsan, Movahed, Saeid
Analytica chimica acta 2016 v.923 pp. 33-44
analytical chemistry, case studies, electric field, electroosmosis, electrophoresis, hybrids, mass transfer, models, molecular dynamics
In this study, for the first time, a hybrid continuum-atomistic based model is proposed for electrokinetics, electroosmosis and electrophoresis, through nanochannels. Although continuum based methods are accurate enough to model fluid flow and electric potential in nanofluidics (in dimensions larger than 4 nm), ionic concentration is too low in nanochannels for the continuum assumption to be valid. On the other hand, the non-continuum based approaches are too time-consuming and therefore is limited to simple geometries, in practice. Here, to propose an efficient hybrid continuum-atomistic method of modelling the electrokinetics in nanochannels; the fluid flow and electric potential are computed based on continuum hypothesis coupled with an atomistic Lagrangian approach for the ionic transport. The results of the model are compared to and validated by the results of the molecular dynamics technique for a couple of case studies. Then, the influences of bulk ionic concentration, external electric field, size of nanochannel, and surface electric charge on the electrokinetic flow and ionic mass transfer are investigated, carefully. The hybrid continuum-atomistic method is a promising approach to model more complicated geometries and investigate more details of the electrokinetics in nanofluidics.