529. On the Moisture Absorption Capability of Ionic Liquids

Toshiyuki Itoh, Kentaro Kamada, Toshiki Nokami, Taiji Ikawa, Kenichi Yagi, Shuji Ikegami, Ryo Inoue, Andrew D. DeYoung, Hyung J. Kim, Phys Chem, (2024), DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.4c02289

Due to their many attractive physicochemical properties, ionic liquids (ILs) have received extensive attention with numerous applications proposed in various fields of science and technology. Despite this, the molecular origins of many of their properties, such as the moisture absorption capability, are still not well understood. For insight into this, we systematically synthesized 24 types of ILs by the combination of the dimethyl phosphate anion with various types of alkyl group-substituted cyclic cations imidazolium, pyrazolium, 1,2,3-triazolium, and 1,2,4-triazolium cationsand performed a detailed analysis of the dehumidification properties of these ILs and their aqueous solutions. It was found that these IL systems have a high dehumidification capability (DC). Among the monocationic ILs, the best performance was obtained with 1-cyclohexylmethyl-4-methyl-1,2,4-triazolium dimethyl phosphate, whose DC (per mol) value is 14 times higher than that of popular solid desiccants like CaCl2 and silica gel. Dicationic ILs, such as 1,1′-(propane-1,3-diyl)bis(4-methyl-1,2,4-triazolium) bis(dimethyl phosphate), showed an even better moisture absorption, with a DC (per mol) value about 20 times higher than that of CaCl2. Small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering measurements of eight types of 1,2,4-triazolium dimethyl phosphate ILs were performed and revealed that the majority of these ILs form nanostructures. Such nanostructures, which vary with the identity of the IL and the water content, fall into three main categories: bicontinuous microemulsions, hexagonal cylinders, and micelle-like structures. Water in the solutions exists primarily in polar regions in the nanostructures; these spaces function as water pockets at relatively low water concentrations. Since the structure and stability of the aggregated forms of the ILs are mainly governed by the interactions of nonpolar groups, the alkyl side chains of the cations play an important role in the DC and temperature-dependent equilibrium water vapor pressure of the IL solutions. Our experimental findings and molecular dynamics simulation results shed light on the moisture absorption mechanism of the IL aqueous solutions from a molecular perspective.