Sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy is a nonlinear vibrational spectroscopic technique used in the study of interfaces, due to its unique ability to distinguish surface molecules that have preferential ordering compared to the isotropic bulk. Here, a series of alkyltrioctylphosphonium chloride ionic liquids, systematically varied by cation structure, were characterized at the air-liquid interface by SFG. The effect on surface structure resulting from molecular variation (i.e., addition of cyano- and methoxy-functional groups) of the cation alkyl chain was investigated. SFG spectra in the C - H stretching region (2750-3100 cm-1) for [P8 8 8 n][Cl], where n = 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, or 14, showed characteristic changes as the alkyl chain length was increased. Spectral profiles for n = 4, 5, 8, or 10 appeared similar; however, when the fourth alkyl chain was sufficiently long (as in the case of n = 12 or n = 14), abrupt changes occurred in the spectra. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of a slab of each ionic liquid (with n = 8, 10, or 12) confirmed gauche defects, with enhancement for the long alkyl chain and an abrupt increase of gauche occurrence from n = 8 to n = 10. A comparison of the tilt angle distribution from the simulation and the SFG analysis show a broad distribution of angles. Using experimental SFG spectra in conjunction with MD simulations, a comprehensive molecular picture at the surface of this unique class of liquids is presented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry