Amphiphilic self-assembly of alkanols in protic ionic liquids

Haihui Joy Jiang, Paul A. FitzGerald, Andrew Dolan, Rob Atkin, Gregory G. Warr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Strong cohesive forces in protic ionic liquids (PILs) can induce a liquid nanostructure consisting of segregated polar and apolar domains. Small-angle X-ray scattering has shown that these forces can also induce medium chain length n-alkanols to self-assemble into micelle- and microemulsion-like structures in ethylammonium (EA+) and propylammonium (PA+) PILs, in contrast to their immiscibility with both water and ethanolammonium (EtA +) PILs. These binary mixtures are structured on two distinct length scales: one associated with the self-assembled n-alkanol aggregates and the other with the underlying liquid nanostructure. This suggests that EA + and PA+ enable n-alkanol aggregation by acting as cosurfactants, which EtA+ cannot do because its terminating hydroxyl renders the cation nonamphiphilic. The primary determining factor for miscibility and self-assembly is the ratio of alkyl chain lengths of the alkanol and PIL cation, modulated by the anion type. These results show how ILs can support the self-assembly of nontraditional amphiphiles and enable the creation of new forms of soft matter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9983-9990
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry Part B: Condensed Matter, Materials, Surfaces, Interfaces & Biophysical
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


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