Nanostructure of Locally Concentrated Ionic Liquids in the Bulk and at Graphite and Gold Electrodes

Jianan Wang, Joshua Buzolic, Jesse W. Mullen, Paul A. FitzGerald, Zach Aman, Maria Forsyth, Hua Li, Debbie S. Silvester, Gregory Warr, Rob Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The physical properties of ionic liquids (ILs) have led to intense research interest, but for many applications, high viscosity is problematic. Mixing the IL with a diluent that lowers viscosity offers a solution if the favorable IL physical properties are not compromised. Here we show that mixing an IL or IL electrolyte (ILE, an IL with dissolved metal ions) with a nonsolvating fluorous diluent produces a low viscosity mixture in which the local ion arrangements, and therefore key physical properties, are retained or enhanced. The locally concentrated ionic liquids (LCILs) examined are 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (HMIM TFSI), 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium tris(pentafluoroethyl)trifluorophosphate (HMIM FAP), or 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tris(pentafluoroethyl)trifluorophosphate (BMIM FAP) mixed with 1,1,2,2-tetrafluoroethyl 2,2,2-trifluoroethyl ether (TFTFE) at 2:1, 1:1, and 1:2 (w/w) IL:TFTFE, as well as the locally concentrated ILEs (LCILEs) formed from 2:1 (w/w) HMIM TFSI–TFTFE with 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75 m lithium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI). Rheology and conductivity measurements reveal that the added TFTFE significantly reduces viscosity and increases ionic conductivity, and cyclic voltammetry (CV) reveals minimal reductions in electrochemical windows on gold and carbon electrodes. This is explained by the small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering (S/WAXS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) data, which show that the local ion nanostructures are largely retained in LCILs and LCILEs in bulk and at gold and graphite electrodes for all potentials investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21567-21584
Number of pages18
JournalACS Nano
Issue number21
Early online date26 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023

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