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Structure and dynamics of ionic liquids confined between metallic surfaces

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The peculiar properties of ionic liquids in confinement have not only become essential for energy storage, catalysis and tribology, but still pose fundamental questions. Recently, an anomalous liquid-solid phase transition has been observed in atomic force microscopy experiments for 1- butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([BMIM][BF4]), the transition being more pronounced for metallic surfaces. Image charges have been suggested as the key element driving the anomalous freezing. Using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations, we investigate the impact of image charges on structure, dynamics and thermodynamics of [BMIM][BF4] confined between gold electrodes. Our results not only unveil a minor role played by the metal polarisation, but also provide a novel description of the interfacial layer, where long range effects are clearly visible in the dynamical properties up to 10 nanometers away from the surface, possibly affecting viscous forces in the experiments. The influence on the interfacial structure and dynamics of applied electric fields and non-equilibrium flow conditions, which also apply to AFM experiments are also discussed.

This talk is part of the Theory - Chemistry Research Interest Group series.

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