Ion pairing in ionic liquids

B Kirchner and F Malberg and DS Firaha and O Holloczki, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 27, 463002 (2015).

DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/27/46/463002

In the present article we briefly review the extensive discussion in literature about the presence or absence of ion pair-like aggregates in ionic liquids. While some experimental studies point towards the presence of neutral subunits in ionic liquids, many other experiments cannot confirm or even contradict their existence. Ion pairs can be detected directly in the gas phase, but no direct method is available to observe such association behavior in the liquid, and the corresponding indirect experimental proofs are based on such assumptions as unity charges at the ions. However, we have shown by calculating ionic liquid clusters of different sizes that assuming unity charges for ILs is erroneous, because a substantial charge transfer is taking place between the ionic liquid ions that reduce their total charge. Considering these effects might establish a bridge between the contradicting experimental results on this matter. Beside these results, according to molecular dynamics simulations the lifetimes of ion-ion contacts and their joint motions are far too short to verify the existence of neutral units in these materials.

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