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Interaction of Water with the Model Ionic Liquid [bmim][BF4]: Molecular Dynamics Simulations and Comparison with NMR Data

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journal contribution
posted on 03.07.2008, 00:00 authored by Margherita Moreno, Franca Castiglione, Andrea Mele, Carlo Pasqui, Guido Raos
We report on molecular dynamics simulations of the ionic liquid [bmim][BF4] and its mixtures with water, from zero up to 0.5 mol fraction of water. All of the simulations are carried out with two published force fields. The results are compared with each other and with published as well as new NMR data on the same mixtures, whenever possible. We perform extensive analyses of structural quantities, such as pair correlation functions, nearest-neighbor analysis and size distribution of the water clusters formed at higher concentrations. We show that the water clusters are formed almost exclusively by linear chains of hydrogen-bonded molecules. There is a nanoscale structuring of the mixtures but no macroscopic phase separation among the components, in agreement with experiment. Roughly, we identify two solvation regimes. At low water content, the ions are selectively coordinated by individual water molecules, but their ionic network is largely unperturbed. At high water content, the ionic network is somewhat disrupted or swollen in a nonspecific way by the water clusters.