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Order-disorder in room-temperature ionic liquids probed via methyl quantum tunneling...

by Eugene Mamontov, Naresh C Osti, Matthew R Ryder
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Structural Dynamics
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Room-temperature ionic liquids are promising candidates for applications ranging from electrolytes for energy storage devices to lubricants for food and cellulose processing to compounds for pharmaceutics, biotransformation, and biopreservation. Due to the ion complexity, many room-temperature ionic liquids readily form amorphous phases upon cooling, even at modest rates. Here, we investigate two commonly studied imidazolium-based room-temperature ionic liquids, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide, as well as their mixtures, to demonstrate how the complex interplay between the crystalline and amorphous phases is affected by the processing conditions, such as thermal history, liquid mixing, and applied pressure. We show that quantum tunneling in the cation methyl groups, measured by high-resolution inelastic neutron scattering, can be used to probe the order-disorder in room-temperature ionic liquids (crystalline vs amorphous state) that develops as a result of variable processing conditions.