WIAS Preprint No. 2531, (2018)

The dielectric constant of liquid electrolytes obtained from periodic homogenization theory


  • Landstorfer, Manuel
    ORCID: 0000-0002-0565-2601

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 35B27 78M40 78A57


  • Homogenization, dielectric constant, electrolytes, dielectric decrement, Poisson equation, multi-scale asymptotic methods




The dielectric constant of an electrolytic solution is known to decrease with increasing salt concentration. This effect, frequently called dielectric decrement, is experimentally found for many salts and solvents and shows an almost linear decrease up to a certain salt concentration. However, the actual origin of this concentration dependence is yet unclear, and many different theoretical approaches investigate this effect. Here I present an investigation based on microscopic Maxwell equations and periodic homogenization theory. The microscopic perception of anions and cations forming a pseudo lattice in the liquid solution is exploited by multi-scale asymptotic expansions, where the inverse Avogadro number arises as small scaling parameter. This leads to a homogenized Poisson equation on the continuum scale with an effective or homogenized dielectric constant that accounts for microscopic field effects in the pseudo lattice. Incomplete dissociation is further considered at higher salt concentrations due to solvation effects. The numerically computed homogenized dielectric constant is then compared to experimental data of NaCl and shows a remarkable qualitative and quantitative agreement in the concentration range of (0 - 5)mol L.

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