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Ion pairing and phase behaviour of an asymmetric restricted primitive model of ionic liquids

Journal article
Authors H. D. Lu
B. Li
Sture Nordholm
C. E. Woodward
J. Forsman
Published in Journal of Chemical Physics
Volume 145
Issue 23
ISSN 0021-9606
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Language en
Keywords double-layer, electrolyte-solutions, simulations, systems, dilute, Chemistry, Physics
Subject categories Chemical Sciences


An asymmetric restricted primitive model (ARPM) of electrolytes is proposed as a simple three parameter (charge q, diameter d, and charge displacement b) model of ionic liquids and solutions. Charge displacement allows electrostatic and steric interactions to operate between different centres, so that orientational correlations arise in ion-ion interactions. In this way the ionic system may have partly the character of a simple ionic fluid/solid and of a polar fluid formed from ion pairs. The present exploration of the system focuses on the ion pair formation mechanism, the relative concentration of paired and free ions and the consequences for the cohesive energy, and the tendency to form fluid or solid phase. In contrast to studies of similar (though not identical) models in the past, we focus on behaviours at room temperature. By MC and MD simulations of such systems composed of monovalent ions of hard-sphere (or essentially hard-sphere) diameter equal to 5 angstrom and a charge displacement ranging from 0 to 2 angstrom from the hard-sphere origin, we find that ion pairing dominates for b larger than 1 angstrom. When b exceeds about 1.5 angstrom, the system is essentially a liquid of dipolar ion pairs with a small presence of free ions. We also investigate dielectric behaviours of corresponding liquids, (c)omposed of purely dipolar species. Many basic features of ionic liquids appear to be remarkably consistent with those of our ARPM at ambient conditions, when b is around 1 angstrom. However, the rate of self-diffusion and, to a lesser extent, conductivity is overestimated, presumably due to the simple spherical shape of our ions in the ARPM. The relative simplicity of our ARPM in relation to the rich variety of new mechanisms and properties it introduces, and to the numerical simplicity of its exploration by theory or simulation, makes it an essential step on the way towards representation of the full complexity of ionic liquids. Published by AIP Publishing.

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