Segregation of ions at the interface: molecular dynamics studies of the bulk and liquid-vapor interface structure of equimolar binary mixtures of ionic liquids

S Palchowdhury and BL Bhargava, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 17, 19919-19928 (2015).

DOI: 10.1039/c5cp02932e

The structures of three different equimolar binary ionic liquid mixtures and their liquid-vapor interface have been studied using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. Two of these binary mixtures were composed of a common cation 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium and varying anions (chloride and hexafluorophosphate in one of the mixtures and chloride and trifluoromethanesulfonate in the other) and the third binary mixture was composed of a common anion, trifluoromethanesulfonate and two imidazolium cations with ethyl and octyl side chains. Binary mixtures with common cations are found to be homogeneous. The anions are preferentially located near the ring hydrogen atoms due to H-bonding interactions. Segregation of ions is observed at the interface with an enrichment of the liquid-vapor interface layer by longer alkyl chains and bigger anions with a distributed charge. The surface composition is drastically different from that of the bulk composition, with the longer alkyl tail groups and bigger anions populating the outermost layer of the interface. The longer alkyl chains of the cations and trifluoromethanesulfonate anions with a smaller charge density show orientational ordering at the liquid-vapor interface.

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