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J Chem Phys. 2004 Jan 22;120(4):1855-63.

Structure of ionic liquids of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cations: a systematic computer simulation study.

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Laboratorio de Espectroscopia Molecular, Instituto de Quimica, Universidade de Sao Paulo, C.P. 26077, CEP 05513-970, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Molecular dynamics simulations of room temperature molten salts (ionic liquids) containing imidazolium cations have been performed. Ten different systems were simulated at 323 K by using united atom force fields, in which the anion size (F-, Cl-, Br-, and PF6-) and the length of the alkyl chain of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cations (1-methyl-, 1-ethyl-, 1-butyl-, and 1-octyl-) were systematically varied. It is shown that the resulting equilibrium structures account for the observed features of experimental static structure factors when available. A detailed analysis of the simultaneous effect of changing the anion and the alkyl chain on the preferential location of nearest-neighbor anions around the cations is provided. It is shown that regions above and below the imidazolium ring are the preferential ones in case of large anions. By increasing the length of the alkyl chain, nearest-neighbor anions are pushed away from the volume occupied by the flexible alkyl chain. Partial structure factors of 1-butyl- and 1-octyl- derivatives display a peak at a wave vector smaller than the main peak, indicating the occurrence of an intermediate range order in these ionic liquids due to the presence of long alkyl chains.

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