Unique Structures and Vibrational Spectra of Protic Ionic Liquids Confined in TiO2 Slits: The Role of Interfacial Hydrogen Bonds

ZY Dai and LL Shi and LH Lu and YH Sun and XH Lu, LANGMUIR, 34, 13449-13458 (2018).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b02527

The ionic liquid (IL)/titanium dioxide (TiO2) interface exists in many application systems, such as nanomaterial synthesis, catalysis, and electrochemistry systems. The nanoscale interfacial properties in the above systems are a common issue. However, directly detecting the interfacial properties of nanoconfined ILs by experimental methods is still challenging. To help better learn about the interfacial issue, molecular dynamics simulations have been performed to explore the structures, vibration spectra, and hydrogen bond (HB) properties at the IL/TiO2 interface. Ethylammonium nitrate (EAN) ILs confined in TiO2 slit pores with different pore widths were studied. A unique vibrational spectrum appeared for EAN ILs confined in a 0.7 nm TiO2 slit, and this phenomenon is related to interfacial hydrogen bonds (HBs). An analysis of the HB types indicated that the interfacial NH3+ group of the cations was in an asymmetric HB environment in the 0.7 nm TiO2 slit, which led to the disappearance of the symmetric N-H stretching mode. In addition, the significant increase in the HB strength between NH3+ groups and the TiO2 surface slowed down the stretching vibration of the N-H bond, resulting in one peak in the vibrational spectra at a lower frequency. For the first time, our simulation work establishes a molecular-level relationship between the vibrational spectrum and the local HB environment of nanoconfined ILs at the IL/TiO2 interface, and this relationship is helpful for interface design in related systems.

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