Origin of Hofmeister effects for complex systems

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Abstract

Hofmeister effects have been recognized as important as Mendel's work was to genetics while remain largely controversial, especially for the mechanistic aspects. Here we demonstrated that complex colloids in electrolyte solutions show resembling aggregation kinetics as model colloid, and then quantitatively evaluated the resulting Hofmeister effects. Mechanism for the aggregation of complex colloids has been proposed that is closely associated with the charges of their constituents; despite that, electrostatic interactions play a minor role while polarization effect is evidenced to be the driving force for the aggregation processes. Polarization effect is further ascribed to arouse the resulting Hofmeister effects, which is supported by the fine correlation of activation energies vs. polarizability data of different alkali ions and the calculations of dipole moments for minerals with different charges and adsorbed alkali ions. Because of neglecting polarization effect, the prevailing DLVO theory is not sufficient to describe Hofmeister effects that are ubiquitous in nature. We speculate that polarization effect should also be responsible for Hofmeister effects of other charged systems such as proteins and membranes.

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Tian, R., Yang, G., Tang, Y., Liu, X., Li, R., Zhu, H., & Li, H. (2015). Origin of Hofmeister effects for complex systems. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128602

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