Effect of ion structure on the nanostructure and electrochemistry of surface active ionic liquids

Yunxiao Zhang, Joshua B. Marlow, Wade Millar, Debbie S. Silvester, Gregory G. Warr, Hua Li, Rob Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Hypothesis: The ion structure of surface active ionic liquids (SAILs), i.e. ion charge group and alkyl chain structure, controls their bulk and interfacial nanostructure and the electrochemical properties near an electrode.Experiments: The structures in the bulk and at the interface were investigated by small and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM), respectively. An investigation was performed using cyclic voltammetry.Findings: All SAILs show pronounced sponge-like bulk nanostructure. For the first time, the bulk nanos-tructures of SAILs are found to change from anion bilayer structures to cation-anion interdigitated struc-tures as the ion structures change from short alkyl chain cations and linear alkyl chain anions to long alkyl chain cations and branched alkyl chain anions. The bulk nanostructure packs more compactly at a higher temperature, likely due to the conformational change and enhanced interdigitations of alkyl chains. The thicknesses of SAIL interfacial layers align with the repeat distances of the bulk nanostructure, similar to conventional ILs with long cation alkyl chains. All SAILs have wide electrochemical windows >4 V, which are not affected by the alkyl chain structure and cation charge groups.(c) 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-939
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023


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