Ionic liquids at the surface of graphite: Wettability and structure

Emilie Bordes, Laurent Douce, Edward L. Quitevis, Agílio A.H. Pádua, Margarida Costa Gomes

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The aim of this work is to provide a better understanding of the interface between graphite and different molecular and ionic liquids. Experimental measurements of the liquid surface tension and of the graphite-liquid contact angle for sixteen ionic liquids and three molecular liquids are reported. These experimental values allowed the calculation of the solid/liquid interfacial energy that varies, for the ionic liquids studied, between 14.5 mN m-1 for 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide and 37.8 mN m-1 for 3-dodecyl-1-(naphthalen-1-yl)-1H-imidazol-3-ium tetrafluoroborate. Imidazolium-based ionic liquids with large alkyl side-chains or functionalized with benzyl groups seem to interact more favourably with freshly peeled graphite surfaces. Even if the interfacial energy seems a good descriptor to assess the affinity of a liquid for a carbon-based solid material, we conclude that both the surface tension of the liquid and the contact angle between the liquid and the solid can be significant. Molecular dynamics simulations were used to investigate the ordering of the ions near the graphite surface. We conclude that the presence of large alkyl side-chains in the cations increases the ordering of ions at the graphite surface. Benzyl functional groups in the cations lead to a large affinity towards the graphite surface.

Original languageEnglish
Article number193840
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 21 2018


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