Crowding, Intermolecular Interactions, and Shear Flow Effects in the Diffusion Model of Chemical Reactions
In the diffusion model of chemical reactions, the encounter (reaction) rate between reactant particles is governed by the Smoluchowski equation, which is a diffusion equation in a field of forces. We consider crowded environments where the particles diffuse through a “liquid” of like particles. Assuming that the liquid-like short-range structure around the reactant gives rise to an effective (osmotic) barrier leads us to map a complicated many-body problem to a one-dimensional problem. This allows us to describe theoretically such complex systems that are encountered in many applications where crowding, intermolecular interactions, and flow are simultaneously present. A particularly important effect is discovered which is due to the interplay between shear and crowding. This effect is responsible for unexpected peaks in the reactivity at low flow intensity which may explain, among other things, the bizarre colloidal stability behavior of concentrated protein suspensions.