Electrostatic interactions in soft particle systems: mesoscale simulations of ionic liquids†
Computer simulations provide a unique insight into the microscopic details, molecular interactions and dynamic behavior responsible for many distinct physicochemical properties of ionic liquids. Due to the sluggish and heterogeneous dynamics and the long-ranged nanostructured nature of ionic liquids, coarse-grained meso-scale simulations provide an indispensable complement to detailed first-principles calculations and atomistic simulations allowing studies over extended length and time scales with a modest computational cost. Here, we present extensive coarse-grained simulations on a series of ionic liquids of the 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium (alkyl = butyl, heptyl-, and decyl-) family with Cl, [BF4], and [PF6] counterions. Liquid densities, microstructures, translational diffusion coefficients, and re-orientational motion of these model ionic liquid systems have been systematically studied over a wide temperature range. The addition of neutral beads in cationic models leads to a transition of liquid morphologies from dispersed apolar beads in a polar framework to that characterized by bi-continuous sponge-like interpenetrating networks in liquid matrices. Translational diffusion coefficients of both cations and anions decrease upon lengthening of the neutral chains in the cationic models and by enlarging molecular sizes of the anionic groups. Similar features are observed in re-orientational motion and time scales of different cationic models within the studied temperature range. The comparison of the liquid properties of the ionic systems with their neutral counterparts indicates that the distinctive microstructures and dynamical quantities of the model ionic liquid systems are intrinsically related to Coulombic interactions. Finally, we compared the computational efficiencies of three linearly scaling O(N log N) Ewald summation methods, the particle–particle particle–mesh method, the particle–mesh Ewald summation method, and the Ewald summation method based on a non-uniform fast Fourier transform technique, to calculate electrostatic interactions. Coarse-grained simulations were performed using the GALAMOST and the GROMACS packages and hardware efficiently utilizing graphics processing units on a set of extended [1-decyl-3-methylimidazolium][BF4] ionic liquid systems of up to 131 072 ion pairs.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Electrostatics and Soft Matter