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J Chem Phys. 2011 Dec 28;135(24):244502. doi: 10.1063/1.3672097.

Experimental evidences for molecular origin of low-Q peak in neutron/x-ray scattering of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)amide ionic liquids.

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  • 1Neutron Scattering Laboratory, Institute for Solid State Physics, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan.


Short- and long-range liquid structures of [C(n)mIm(+)][TFSA(-)] with n = 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 have been studied by high-energy x-ray diffraction (HEXRD) and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments with the aid of MD simulations. Observed x-ray structure factor, S(Q), for the ionic liquids with the alkyl-chain length n > 6 exhibited a characteristic peak in the low-Q range of 0.2-0.4 Å(-1), indicating the heterogeneity of their ionic liquids. SANS profiles I(H)(Q) and I(D)(Q) for the normal and the alkyl group deuterated ionic liquids, respectively, showed significant peaks for n = 10 and 12 without no form factor component for large spherical or spheroidal aggregates like micelles in solution. The peaks for n = 10 and 12 evidently disappeared in the difference SANS profiles ΔI(Q) [=I(D)(Q) - I(H)(Q)], although that for n = 12 slightly remained. This suggests that the long-range correlations originated from the alkyl groups hardly contribute to the low-Q peak intensity in SANS. To reveal molecular origin of the low-Q peak, we introduce here a new function; x-ray structure factor intensity at a given Q as a function of r, S(Q) (peak)(r). The S(Q) (peak)(r) function suggests that the observed low-Q peak intensity depending on n is originated from liquid structures at two r-region of 5-8 and 8-15 Å for all ionic liquids examined except for n = 12. Atomistic MD simulations are consistent with the HEXRD and SANS experiments, and then we discussed the relationship between both variations of low-Q peak and real-space structure with lengthening the alkyl group of the C(n)mIm.

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