Ionic liquids with chlorometallate anions may not have been the first ionic liquids, however, it was their development that lead to the recognition that ionic liquids are a distinct, and useful, class of (functional) materials. While much of the phenomenal interest and attention over the past two decades has focussed on ‘air and water stable’ ionic liquids, research and application of chlorometallate systems has continued unabated albeit largely out of the main spotlight. The defining characteristic of chlorometallates is the presence of complex anionic equilibria, which depend both on the type and on the concentration of metal present, and leads directly to their characteristic and individual properties. Here, we review the experimental techniques that can be applied to study and characterise the anion speciation in these ionic liquids and, using recent examples, illustrate how their applications base is evolving beyond traditional applications in Lewis acidic catalysis and electrochemistry through to uses as soft and component materials, in the ionothermal synthesis of semiconductors, gas storage systems and key components in the development of biomass processing.
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