Structure and Dynamics of N,N-Diethyl-N-methylammonium Triflate Ionic Liquid, Neat and with Water, from Molecular Dynamics Simulations

We investigated by means of molecular dynamics simulations the properties (structure, thermodynamics, ion transport, and dynamics) of the protic ionic liquid N,N-diethyl-N-methylammonium triflate (dema:Tfl) and of selected aqueous mixtures of dema:Tfl. This ionic liquid, a good candidate for a water-free proton exchange membrane, is shown to exhibit high ion mobility and conductivity. The radial distribution functions reveal a significant long-range structural correlation. The ammonium cations [dema]+ are found to diffuse slightly faster than the triflate anions [Tfl], and both types of ions exhibit enhanced mobility at higher temperatures, leading to higher ionic conductivity. Analysis of the dynamics of ion pairing clearly points to the existence of long-lived contact ion pairs. We also examined the effects of water through characterization of properties of dema:Tfl−water mixtures. Water molecules replace counterions in the coordination shell of both ions, thus weakening their association. As water concentration increases, water molecules start to connect with each other and then form a large network that percolates through the system. Water influences ion dynamics in the mixtures. As the concentration of water increases, both translational and rotational motions of [dema]+ and [Tfl] are significantly enhanced. As a result, higher vehicular ionic conductivity is observed with increased hydration level.