Liquid/liquid interface layering of 1-butanol and [bmim]PF6 ionic liquid: a nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation study†
IR-visible sum-frequency generation (IV-SFG) vibrational spectroscopy and a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation were used to study the local layering order at the interface of 1-butanol-d9 and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate ([bmim]PF6), a room-temperature ionic liquid (RTIL). The presence of a local non-polar layer at the interface of the two polar liquids was successfully demonstrated. In the SFG spectra of 1-butanol-d9, we observed significant reduction and enhancement in the strength of the CD3 symmetric stretching (r+) mode and the antisymmetric stretching (r−) mode peaks, respectively. The results can be well explained by the presence of an oppositely oriented quasi-bilayer structure of butanol molecules, where the bottom layer is strongly bound by hydrogen-bonding with the PF6− anion. MD simulations reveal that the hydrogen-bonding of butanol with the PF6− anion causes the preferential orientation of the butanols; the restriction on the rotational distribution of the terminal methyl group along their C3 axis enhances the r− mode. As for the [bmim]+ cations, the SFG spectra taken within the CH stretch region indicate that the butyl chain of [bmim]+ points away from the bulk RTIL phase to the butanol phase at the interface. Combining the SFG spectroscopy and MD simulation results, we propose an interfacial model structure of layering, in which the butyl chains of the butanol molecules form a non-polar interfacial layer with the butyl chains of the [bmim]+ cations at the interface.