When a charged membrane separates two salt solutions of different concentrations, a potential difference appears due to interfacial Donnan equilibrium and the diffusion junction. Here, we report a new mechanism for the generation of a membrane potential in polarizable conductive membranes via an induced surface charge. It results from an electric field generated by the diffusion of ions with different mobilities. For uncharged membranes, this effect strongly enhances the diffusion potential and makes it highly sensitive to the ion mobilities ratio, electrolyte concentration, and pore size. Theoretical predictions on the basis of the space-charge model extended to polarizable nanopores fully agree with experimental measurements in KCl and NaCl aqueous solutions.
Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)