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J Phys Chem B. 2008 Dec 4;112(48):15349-54. doi: 10.1021/jp805120m.

Glass-liquid transition, crystallization, and melting of a room temperature ionic liquid: thin films of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis[trifluoromethanesulfonyl]imide studied with TOF-SIMS.

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  • 1Nanoscale Materials Center, National Institute for Materials Science 1-1 Namiki, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0044, Japan.


To discuss the relationship between liquid, crystalline, and glassy states of ionic liquids, TOF-SIMS was used to analyze the glass-liquid transition, crystallization, and melting of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis[trifluoromethanesulfonyl]imide ([emim][Tf(2)N]) at the molecular level at temperatures of 150-280 K. The [emim][Tf(2)N] molecules can be deposited thermally on a Ni(111) surface without decomposition. LiI was adsorbed onto the thin film in order to investigate the glass-liquid transition; it was incorporated in deeper layers at temperatures higher than 180 K. Crystallization of the film at around 200-220 K was identifiable from the abrupt increase in the [emim](+) yield, which probably results from the steric effect of the structured cations and anions forming anisotropic bonds in a specific layered structure. The glass-liquid transition and crystallization of [emim][Tf(2)N] differ significantly from those of water and alcohol in terms of the morphological change of the film and the interaction with adsorbed LiI. This behavior might be explained by the absence of a liquid-liquid phase transition for [emim][Tf(2)N]. The vapor-deposited thin films (2.5 and 5.0 monolayers) crystallize at around 200 K, but they melt gradually at temperatures considerably lower than the bulk melting point (ca. 260 K) because of the evolution of a quasi-liquid layer and the disappearance of a crystal template.

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