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Issue 38, 2013
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Computer simulations of ionic liquids at electrochemical interfaces

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Ionic liquids are widely used as electrolytes in electrochemical devices. In this context, many experimental and theoretical approaches have been recently developed for characterizing their interface with electrodes. In this perspective article, we review the most recent advances in the field of computer simulations (mainly molecular dynamics). A methodology for simulating electrodes at constant electrical potential is presented. Several types of electrode geometries have been investigated by many groups in order to model planar, corrugated and porous materials and we summarize the results obtained in terms of the structure of the liquids. This structure governs the quantity of charge which can be stored at the surface of the electrode for a given applied potential, which is the relevant quantity for the highly topical use of ionic liquids in supercapacitors (also known as electrochemical double-layer capacitors). A key feature, which was also shown by atomic force microscopy and surface force apparatus experiments, is the formation of a layered structure for all ionic liquids at the surface of planar electrodes. This organization cannot take place inside nanoporous electrodes, which results in a much better performance for the latter in supercapacitors. The agreement between simulations and electrochemical experiments remains qualitative only though, and we outline future directions which should enhance the predictive power of computer simulations. In the longer term, atomistic simulations will also be applied to the case of electron transfer reactions at the interface, enabling the application to a broader area of problems in electrochemistry, and the few recent works in this field are also commented upon.

Graphical abstract: Computer simulations of ionic liquids at electrochemical interfaces

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Article information

17 May 2013
18 Jul 2013
First published
18 Jul 2013

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 15781-15792
Article type

Computer simulations of ionic liquids at electrochemical interfaces

C. Merlet, B. Rotenberg, P. A. Madden and M. Salanne, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15, 15781
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP52088A

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