A variational theory is developed and applied to study the properties of dielectric spheres immersed in a symmetric electrolyte solution. In the limit that the radius of the sphere becomes much larger than the Debye screening length, the system reduces to that of a planar dielectric interface. For this case, the excess surface tension obtained by the variational theory reduces to the Onsager-Samaras [J. Chem. Phys. 2, 528 (1934)] limiting law at low electrolyte concentrations. As the radius of the dielectric sphere decreases, the excess surface tension also decreases. The implications of this work to protein-salt interactions and the salting out of proteins are discussed.
- molecular biophysics
- bioelectric phenomena