Tuning the melting point of selected ionic liquids through adjustment of the cation's dipole moment†
In previous work with thermally robust salts [Cassity et al., Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, 19, 31560] it was noted that an increase in the dipole moment of the cation generally led to a decrease in the melting point. Molecular dynamics simulations of the liquid state revealed that an increased dipole moment reduces cation–cation repulsions through dipole–dipole alignment. This was believed to reduce the liquid phase enthalpy, which would tend to lower the melting point of the IL. In this work we further test this principle by replacing hydrogen atoms with fluorine atoms at selected positions within the cation. This allows us to alter the electrostatics of the cation without substantially affecting the sterics. Furthermore, the strength of the dipole moment can be controlled by choosing different positions within the cation for replacement. We studied variants of four different parent cations paired with bistriflimide and determined their melting points, and enthalpies and entropies of fusion through DSC experiments. The decreases in the melting point were determined to be enthalpically driven. We found that the dipole moment of the cation, as determined by quantum chemical calculations, is inversely correlated with the melting point of the given compound. Molecular dynamics simulations of the crystalline and solid states of two isomers showed differences in their enthalpies of fusion that closely matched those seen experimentally. Moreover, this reduction in the enthalpy of fusion was determined to be caused by an increase in the enthalpy of the crystalline state. We provide evidence that dipole–dipole interactions between cations leads to the formation of cationic domains in the crystalline state. These cationic associations partially block favourable cation–anion interactions, which are recovered upon melting. If, however, the dipole–dipole interactions between cations is too strong they have a tendency to form glasses. This study provides a design rule for lowering the melting point of structurally similar ILs by altering their dipole moment.