Ion-Cage Interpretation for the Structural and Dynamic Changes of Ionic Liquids under an External Electric Field

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Rui Shi Yanting Wang
In many applications, ionic liquids (ILs) work in a nonequilibrium steady state driven by an external electric field. However, how the electric field changes the structure and dynamics of ILs and its underlying mechanism still remain poorly understood. In this paper, coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations were performed to investigate the structure and dynamics of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium nitrate ([EMIm]­[NO3]) under a static electric field. The ion cage structure was found to play an essential role in determining the structural and dynamic properties of the IL system. With a weak or moderate electric field (0–107 V/m), the external electric field is too weak to modify the ion cage structure in an influential way and thus the changes of structural and dynamic properties are negligible. With a strong electric field (107–109 V/m) applied, ion cages expand and deform apparently, leading to the increase of ion mobility and self-diffusion coefficient with electric field, and the self-diffusion of ions along the electric field becomes faster than the other two directions due to the anisotropic deformation of ion cages. In addition, the Einstein relation connecting diffusion and mobility breaks down at strong electric fields, and it also breaks down for a single ion species even at moderate electric fields (linear-response region).