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Role of the Electrostatic Interactions in the Stabilization of Ionic Liquid Crystals: Insights from Coarse-Grained MD Simulations of an Imidazolium Model



Role of the Electrostatic Interactions in the Stabilization of Ionic Liquid Crystals: Insights from Coarse-Grained MD Simulations of an Imidazolium Model



Journal of Physical Chemistry. B 120(34): 9152-9160



In order to investigate the role of the electrostatic interactions in stabilizing various phases of ionic liquids, especially smectic ionic liquid crystals, we have employed a coarse-grained model of 1-hexadecyl-3-methylimidazolium nitrate, [C16mim][NO3], to perform molecular dynamics simulations with the partial charges artificially rescaled by a factor from 0.7 to 1.2. The simulated systems have been characterized by means of orientational and translational order parameters and by distribution functions. We have found that increasing the total charge of the ions strongly stabilizes the ionic smectic phase by shifting the clearing point (melting into the isotropic liquid phase) to higher temperatures, while a smaller effect is observed on the stability of the crystal phase. Our results highlight the importance of the electrostatic interactions in promoting the formation of ionic liquid crystals through microphase segregation. Moreover, as the total charge of the model is increased, we observe a transformation from a homogeneous to a nanosegregated isotropic structure typical of ionic liquids. Therefore, a connection can be established between the degree of nanosegregation of ILs and the stability of ILC phases. All the above can be understood by the competition among electrostatic interactions between charged groups (cationic head groups and anions), van der Waals interactions between nonpolar cationic tail groups, and thermal fluctuations.

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Accession: 058791043

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27486996

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b04717


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