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Electro-Interfacial Composition Control by Ionic Liquid Technology

Nanostructure, Self-Assembly, and Friction

Time: Fri 2024-03-01 14.00

Location: F3 (Flodis), Lindstedtsvägen 26 & 28, Stockholm

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Language: English

Subject area: Chemistry

Doctoral student: Sichao Li , Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap

Opponent: Professor Nicholas Spencer, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Supervisor: Professor Mark W. Rutland, Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap; Professor Sergei Glavatskih, Maskinkonstruktion

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QC 20240112


Given the potential of ionic liquids (ILs) for batteries, supercapacitors and advanced lubricants, it is crucial to understand how electric fields affect the interfacial behaviour in IL-solvent systems and the intricate relationship between nanostructure and tribotronic properties. This thesis investigates the structural and compositional changes of ILs with different solvents at electrified interfaces.

The four papers constituting this thesis can be broadly divided into two studies. The first study outlines the electro-interfacial behaviour of various monocationic (MILs) and dicationic ILs (DILs) dispersed in propylene carbonate. Combining electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance, neutron reflectivity (EC-NR), and atomic force microscopy, a voltage-induced interphase transition from a self-assembled cation bilayer to a conventional electrical double-layer structure has been revealed in bis(oxalato)borate anion MILs. This interphase transition has not been observed in DILs, attributed to the dual charge centres reducing the segregation between polar and apolar domains of dications for self-assembly interaction. 

The second study explores three MILs sharing the same phosphonium cation with varying orthoborate-based anions dissolved in 2-ethylhexyl laurate (2-EHL). EC-NR measurements reveal a solvent-rich interfacial corona layer and the subtlety of anion architecture in tuning electro-interfacial properties. Meanwhile, EC-NR has been used as a complementary probe to elucidate the nano-scale structural and compositional changes in the boundary films of IL/2-EHL systems with varying potentials, providing a direct link between the molecular controllability and macroscopic tribotronic performance studies.

This thesis contributes to the fundamental understanding of electro-interfacial behaviour and controllability of IL-solvent systems and offers valuable molecular insights for deploying these novel ILs as additives in advanced tribological and electrochemical contexts.