Nernst Equation for Cellular Membranes

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The Nernst equation is used to determine the potential of an ion of charge across a membrane using both extracellular and intracellular concentrations. It can be written as


, with .

is the equilibrium membrane potential in volts;

is the ideal gas constant;

is the temperature in Kelvin;

is Faraday's constant;

, , , and are the extracellular concentrations of potassium, sodium, chlorine, and calcium ions;

and , , , and are the intracellular concentrations of potassium, sodium, chlorine, and calcium ions.

The default setting of the Demonstration calculates the equilibrium potentials for ions in a mammalian cell.


Contributed by: Apoorva Mylavarapu (February 2014)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA




[1] D. H. Terman and G. B. Ermentrout, Foundations of Mathematical Neuroscience, New York: Springer, 2010 pp. 2–5.

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