Refractive index determination of minerals and gems often requires their immersion in fluids with the same refractive index. However, these natural materials frequently have refractive indices above the ranges of common organic solvents. Most available high refractive index immersion materials are solid at room temperature, toxic, noxious, corrosive, carcinogenic, or any combination thereof. Since the physical properties of ionic liquids can be tuned by varying the cation and/or anion, we have developed immersion fluids for mineralogical studies which are relatively benign. We report here the syntheses of a range of ionic liquids ( many novel) based on the 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cation, which all have refractive indices greater than 1.4, and can be used as immersion fluids for optical mineralogy studies. We further show that for a series of ionic liquids with the same anion, the refractive indices can be adjusted by systematic changes in the cation.
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