Ordering of ionic liquids at a charged sapphire interface: Evolution with cationic chain length

Diego Pontoni, Marco DiMichiel, Bridget M. Murphy, Veijo Honkimäki, Moshe Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypothesis: Room Temperature Ionic Liquids (RTILs) bulk's molecular layering dominates their structure also at the RTIL/sapphire interface, increasing the layer spacing with the cationic alkyl chain length n. However, the negatively-charged sapphire surface compresses the layers, increases the layering range, and affects the intra-layer structure in yet unknown ways. Experiments: X-ray reflectivity (XR) off the RTIL/sapphire interface, for a broad homologous RTIL series 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethansulfonyl)imide, hitherto unavailable for any RTIL. Findings: RTIL layers against the sapphire, exhibit two spacings: da and db. da is n-varying, follows the behavior of the bulk spacing but exhibits a downshift, thus showing significant layer compression, and over twofold polar slab thinning. The latter suggests exclusion of anions from the interfacial region due to the negative sapphire charging by x-ray-released electrons. The layering range is larger than the bulk's. db is short and near n-independent, suggesting polar moieties' layering, the coexistence mode of which with the da-spaced layering is unclear. Comparing the present layering with the bulk's and the RTIL/air interface's provides insight into the Coulomb and dispersion interaction balance dominating the RTIL's structure and the impact thereon of the presence of a charged solid interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-45
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - May 2024

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© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


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