Since its prediction 15 years ago, hydrodynamic instability in concentration polarization at a charge-selective interface has been attributed to nonequilibrium electro-osmosis related to the extended space charge which develops at the limiting current. This attribution had a double basis. On the one hand, it has been recognized that neither equilibrium electro-osmosis nor bulk electroconvection can yield instability for a perfectly charge-selective solid. On the other hand, it has been shown that nonequilibrium electro-osmosis can. The first theoretical studies in which electro-osmotic instability was predicted and analyzed employed the assumption of perfect charge selectivity for the sake of simplicity and so did the subsequent studies of various time-dependent and nonlinear features of electro-osmotic instability. In this Letter, we show that relaxing the assumption of perfect charge selectivity (tantamount to fixing the electrochemical potential of counterions in the solid) allows for the equilibrium electroconvective instability. In addition, we suggest a simple experimental test for determining the true, either equilibrium or nonequilibrium, origin of instability in concentration polarization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (all)