A double layer (DL, also called an electrical double layer, EDL) is a structure that appears on the surface of an object when it is exposed to a fluid. The object might be a solid particle, a gas bubble, a liquid droplet, or a porous body. The DL refers to two parallel layers of charge surrounding the object. The first layer, the surface charge (either positive or negative), consists of ions adsorbed onto the object due to chemical interactions. The second layer is composed of ions attracted to the surface charge via the Coulomb force, electrically screening the first layer. This second layer is loosely associated with the object. It is made of free ions that move in the fluid under the influence of electric attraction and thermal motion rather than being firmly anchored. It is thus called the "diffuse layer".
Interfacial DLs are most apparent in systems with a large surface area to volume ratio, such as a colloid or porous bodies with particles or pores (respectively) on the scale of micrometres to nanometres. However, DLs are important to other phenomena, such as the electrochemical behaviour of electrodes.
DLs play a fundamental role in many everyday substances. For instance, homogenized milk exists only because fat droplets are covered with a DL that prevents their coagulation into butter. DLs exist in practically all heterogeneous fluid-based systems, such as blood, paint, ink and ceramic and cement slurry.
The DL is closely related to electrokinetic phenomena and electroacoustic phenomena.

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