General theory of asymmetric steric interactions in electrostatic double layers
We study the mean-field Poisson–Boltzmann equation in the context of dense ionic liquids where steric effects become important. We generalise lattice gas theory by introducing a Flory–Huggins entropy for ions of differing volumes and then compare the effective free energy density to other existing lattice gas approximations, not based on the Flory–Huggins Ansatz. Within the methodology presented we also invoke more realistic equations of state, such as the Carnahan–Starling approximation, that are not based on the lattice gas approximation and lead to thermodynamic functions and properties that differ strongly from the lattice gas case. We solve the Carnahan–Starling model in the high density limit, and demonstrate a slow, power-law convergence at high potentials. We elucidate how equivalent convex free energy functions can be constructed that describe steric effects in a manner which is more convenient for numerical minimisation.