Hidden Criticality of Counterion Condensation Near a Charged Cylinder

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Counterion condensation onto a charged cylinder, known as the Manning transition, has received a great deal of attention since it is essential to understand the properties of polyelectrolytes in ionic solutions. However, the current understanding is still far from complete and poses a puzzling question: While the strong-coupling theory valid at large ionic correlations suggests a discontinuous nature of the counterion condensation, the mean-field theory always predicts a continuous transition at the same critical point. This naturally leads to a question how one can reconcile the mean-field theory with the strong-coupling prediction. Here, we study the counterion condensation transition on a charged cylinder via Monte Carlo simulations. Varying the cylinder radius systematically in relation to the system size, we find that in addition to the Manning transition, there exists a novel transition where all counterions are bound to the cylinder and the heat capacity shows a drop at a finite Manning parameter. A finite-size scaling analysis is carried out to confirm the criticality of the complete condensation transition, yielding the same critical exponents with the Manning transition. We show that the existence of the complete condensation is essential to explain how the condensation nature alters from continuous to discontinuous transition.
Publisher
NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Issue Date
2017-09
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Keywords

POLYELECTROLYTE SOLUTIONS; MANNING CONDENSATION; POISSON-BOLTZMANN; KOSTERLITZ-THOULESS; LIMITING LAWS; SIMULATIONS; DNA

Citation

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v.7

ISSN
2045-2322
DOI
10.1038/s41598-017-09974-9
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/226120
Appears in Collection
NT-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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