A new class of low-melting N,N'-dialkylimidazolium salts has been prepared with carborane counterions, some of the most inert and least nucleophilic anions presently known. The cations and anions have been systematically varied with combinations of 1-ethyl-3-methyl-(EMIM+), 1-octyl-3-methyl-(OMIM+), 1-ethyl-2,3-dimethyl- (EDMIM+), and 1-butyl-2,3-dimethyl- (BDMIM+) imidazolium cations and CB11H12-CB11H6Cl6-, and CB11H6Br6- carborane anions to elucidate the factors which affect their melting points. From trends in melting points, which range from 156 degrees C down to 45 degrees C, it is clear that the alkylation pattern on the imidazolium cation is the main determinant of melting point and that packing inefficiency of the cation is the intrinsic cause of low melting points. C-Alkylation of the anion can also contribute to low melting points by the introduction of a further packing inefficiency. Nine of the thirteen salts have been the subject of X-ray crystal structural determination. Notably, crystallographic disorder of the cation is observed in all but one of these salts. It is the most direct evidence to date that packing inefficiency is the major reason unsymmetrical N,N'-dialkylimidazolium salts can be liquids at room temperature.
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