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Towards a Molecular Understanding of Cation–Anion Interactions—Probing the Electronic Structure of Imidazolium Ionic Liquids by NMR Spectroscopy, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and Theoretical Calculations



Ten [C8C1Im]+ (1-methyl-3-octylimidazolium)-based ionic liquids with anions Cl, Br, I, [NO3], [BF4], [TfO], [PF6], [Tf2N], [Pf2N], and [FAP] (TfO=trifluoromethylsulfonate, Tf2N=bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide, Pf2N=bis(pentafluoroethylsulfonyl)imide, FAP=tris(pentafluoroethyl)trifluorophosphate) and two [C8C1C1Im]+ (1,2-dimethyl-3-octylimidazolium)-based ionic liquids with anions Br and [Tf2N] were investigated by using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), NMR spectroscopy and theoretical calculations. While 1H NMR spectroscopy is found to probe very specifically the strongest hydrogen-bond interaction between the hydrogen attached to the C2 position and the anion, a comparative XPS study provides first direct experimental evidence for cation–anion charge-transfer phenomena in ionic liquids as a function of the ionic liquid’s anion. These charge-transfer effects are found to be surprisingly similar for [C8C1Im]+ and [C8C1C1Im]+ salts of the same anion, which in combination with theoretical calculations leads to the conclusion that hydrogen bonding and charge transfer occur independently from each other, but are both more pronounced for small and more strongly coordinating anions, and are greatly reduced in the case of large and weakly coordinating anions.

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