Structure and dynamics of propylammonium nitrate-acetonitrile mixtures: An intricate multi-scale system probed with experimental and theoretical techniques

Marco Campetella, Alessandro Mariani, Claudia Sadun, Boning Wu, Ed Castner, Lorenzo Gontrani

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we report the study of structural and dynamical properties for a series of acetonitrile/propylammonium nitrate mixtures as a function of their composition. These systems display an unusual increase in intensity in their X-ray diffraction patterns in the low-q regime, and their 1H-NMR diffusion-ordered NMR spectroscopy (DOSY) spectra display unusual diffusivities. However, the magnitude of both phenomena for mixtures of propylammonium nitrate is smaller than those observed for ethylammonium nitrate mixtures with the same cosolvent, suggesting that the cation alkyl tail plays an important role in these observations. The experimental X-ray scattering data are compared with the results of molecular dynamics simulations, including both ab initio studies used to interpret short-range interactions and classical simulations to describe longer range interactions. The higher level calculations highlight the presence of a strong hydrogen bond network within the ionic liquid, only slightly perturbed even at high acetonitrile concentration. These strong interactions lead to the symmetry breaking of the NO3- vibrations, with a splitting of about 88 cm-1 in the ν3 antisymmetric stretch. The classical force field simulations use a greater number of ion pairs, but are not capable of fully describing the longest range interactions, although they do successfully account for the observed concentration trend, and the analysis of the models confirms the nano-inhomogeneity of these kinds of samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134507
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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