Interaction of ionic liquids with noble metal surfaces: structure formation and stability of [OMIM][TFSA] and [EMIM][TFSA] on Au(111) and Ag(111)†
Aiming at a comprehensive understanding of the interaction of ionic liquids (ILs) with metal surfaces we have investigated the adsorption of two closely related ILs, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide [EMIM][TFSA] and 1-methyl-3-octylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide [OMIM][TFSA], with two noble metal surfaces, Au(111) and Ag(111), under ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). At room temperature, the ILs form a 2D liquid on either of the two surfaces, while at lower temperatures they condense into two-dimensional (2D) islands which exhibit ordered structures or a short-range ordered 2D glass structure. Comparison of the adlayer structures formed in the different adsorption systems and also with those determined recently for n-butyl-n-methylpyrrolidinium [TFSA]− adlayers on Ag(111) and Au(111) (B. Uhl et al., Beilstein J. Nanotechnol., 2013, 4, 903) gains detailed insight into the adsorption geometry of the IL ions on the surface. The close similarity of the adlayer structures indicates that (i) the structure formation is dominated by the tendency to optimize the anion adsorption geometry, and that (ii) also in the present systems the cation adsorbs with the alkyl chain pointing up from the surface.