Unravelling free volume in branched-cation ionic liquids based on silicon

E Bakis and K Goloviznina and ICM Vaz and D Sloboda and D Hazens and V Valkovska and I Klimenkovs and A Padua and MC Gomes, CHEMICAL SCIENCE, 13, 9062-9073 (2022).

DOI: 10.1039/d2sc01696f

The branching of ionic liquid cation sidechains utilizing silicon as the backbone was explored and it was found that this structural feature leads to fluids with remarkably low density and viscosity. The relatively low liquid densities suggest a large free volume in these liquids. Argon solubility was measured using a precise saturation method to probe the relative free volumes. Argon molar solubilities were slightly higher in ionic liquids with alkylsilane and siloxane groups within the cation, compared to carbon-based branched groups. The anion size, however, showed by far the dominant effect on argon solubility. Thermodynamic solvation parameters were derived from the solubility data and the argon solvation environment was modelled utilizing the polarizable CL&Pol force field. Semiquantitative analysis was in agreement with trends established from the experimental data. The results of this investigation demonstrate design principles for targeted ionic liquids when optimisation for the free volume is required, and demonstrate the utility of argon as a simple, noninteracting probe. As more ionic liquids find their way into industrial processes of scale, these findings are important for their utilisation in the capture of any gaseous solute, gas separation, or in processes involving the transformation of gases or small molecules.

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