Dressed counterions: Strong electrostatic coupling in the presence of salt
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We reformulate the theory of strong electrostatic coupling in order to describe an asymmetric electrolyte solution of monovalent salt ions and polyvalent counterions using field-theoretical techniques and Monte Carlo simulations. The theory is based on an asymmetric treatment of the different components of the electrolyte solution. The weak coupling Debye-Huumlckel approach is used in order to describe the monovalent salt ions while a strong coupling approach is used to tackle the polyvalent counterions. This combined weak-strong coupling approach effectively leads to dressed interactions between polyvalent counterions and thus directly affects the correlation attraction mediated by polyvalent counterions between like-charged objects. The general theory is specifically applied to a system composed of two uniformly charged plane-parallel surfaces in the presence of salt and polyvalent counterions. In the strong coupling limit for polyvalent counterions, the comparison with Monte Carlo simulations shows good agreement for large enough values of the electrostatic coupling parameter. We delineate two limiting laws that in fact encompass all the Monte Carlo data.