Published Research - Department of Chemistry


Date of this Version



Published by American Physical Society. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 246104 (2002). Copyright © 2002 American Physical Society. Permission to use.


The effect of a uniform electric field on interfacial properties of dipolar-quadrupolar fluids is investigated by using the density-functional theory. As in the case of purely dipolar fluids the (thermodynamic) surface tension is always altered by the external field, regardless of the direction of the field. However, unlike the purely dipolar fluids, for two given external fields with the same strength but exactly opposite direction the magnitude of variation in the surface tension is different. This apparent symmetry breaking by reversing the field direction suggests a new molecular mechanism to explain the phenomenon of sign preference in droplet formation on charged condensation centers.

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