Charge polarization, local electroneutrality breakdown and eddy formation due to electroosmosis in varying-section channels†
We characterize the dynamics of an electrolyte embedded in a varying-section channel under the action of a constant external electrostatic field. By means of molecular dynamics simulations we determine the stationary density, charge and velocity profiles of the electrolyte. Our results show that when the Debye length is comparable to the width of the channel bottlenecks a concentration polarization along with two eddies sets inside the channel. Interestingly, upon increasing the external field, local electroneutrality breaks down and charge polarization sets leading to the onset of net dipolar field. This novel scenario, that cannot be captured by the standard approaches based on local electroneutrality, opens the route for the realization of novel micro and nano-fluidic devices.