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Voronoi Polyhedra as a Tool for the Characterization of Inhomogeneous Distribution in 1‑Butyl-3-methylimidazolium Cation-Based Ionic Liquids

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journal contribution
posted on 05.11.2020, 16:07 by Volodymyr Koverga, Nishith Maity, François Alexandre Miannay, Oleg N. Kalugin, Akos Juhasz, Adam Świątek, Kamil Polok, Toshiyuki Takamuku, Pál Jedlovszky, Abdenacer Idrissi
The inhomogeneity distribution in four imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) containing the 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium (C4mim) cation, coupled with tetrafluoroborate (BF4), hexafluorophosphate (PF6), bis­(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)­amide (TFSA), and trifluoromethanesulfonate (TfO) anions, was characterized using Voronoi polyhedra. For this purpose, molecular dynamic simulations have been performed on the isothermal–isobaric (NpT) ensemble. We checked the ability of the potential models to reproduce the experimental density, heat of vaporization, and transport properties (diffusion and viscosity) of these ionic liquids. The inhomogeneity distribution of ions around the ring, methyl, and butyl chain terminal hydrogen atoms of the C4mim cation was investigated by means of Voronoi polyhedra analysis. For this purpose, the position of the C4mim cation was described successively by the ring, methyl, and butyl chain terminal hydrogen atoms, while that of the anions was described by their F or O atom. We calculated the Voronoi polyhedra distributions of the volume, the density, and the asphericity parameters as well as that of the radius of the spherical intermolecular voids. We carried out the analysis in two steps. In the first step, both ions were taken into account. The calculated distributions gave information on the neighboring ions around a reference one. In the second step, to distinguish between like and oppositely charged ions and then to get information on the inhomogeneity distribution of the like ions, we repeated the same calculations on the same sample configurations and removed one of the ions and considered only the other one. Detailed analysis of these distributions has revealed that the ring hydrogen atoms are mainly solvated by the anions, while the methyl and butyl terminal H atoms are surrounded by like atoms. The extent of this inhomogeneity was assessed by calculating the cluster size distribution that shows that the dimers are the most abundant ones.