Near surface properties of mixtures of propylammonium nitrate with n-alkanols 1. Nanostructure

Aaron Elbourne, Samuel Cronshaw, Kislon Voïtchovsky, Gregory G. Warr, Rob Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In situ amplitude modulated-atomic force microscopy (AM-AFM) has been used to probe the nanostructure of mixtures of propylammonium nitrate (PAN) with n-alkanols near a mica surface. PAN is a protic ionic liquid (IL) which has a bicontinuous sponge-like nanostructure of polar and apolar domains in the bulk, which becomes flatter near a solid surface. Mixtures of PAN with 1-butanol, 1-octanol, and 1-dodecanol at 10-70 vol% n-alkanol have been examined, along with each pure n-alkanol, to reveal the effect of composition and n-alkanol chain length. At low concentrations the butanol simply swells the PAN near-surface nanostructure, but at higher concentrations the nanostructure fragments. Octanol and dodecanol first lower the preferred curvature of the PAN near-surface nanostructure because, unlike n-butanol, their alkyl chains are too long to be accommodated alongside the PAN cations. At higher concentrations, octanol and dodecanol self-assemble into n-alkanol rich aggregates in a PAN rich matrix. The concentration at which aggregation first becomes apparent decreases with n-alkanol chain length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26621-26628
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


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