Composition



There are a number of different cation and anion combinations that may result in salts having low melting points; examples of some of the different cation structures and anion pairs that may result in an ionic liquid are:8

Anions and cations that usually form an ionic liquid

To make an ionic liquid, researchers can select from dozens of small anions, such as hexafluorophosphate ([PF6]) and tetrafluoroborate ([BF4]), and hundreds of thousands of large cations, such as 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium or 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium. Ionic liquids are thus "designer solvents". Chemists are free to pick and choose among the ions to make a liquid that suits a particular need, such as dissolving certain chemicals in a reaction or extracting specific molecules from a solution.9

To date, commercial offerings of salts explicitly described as ionic liquids are largely imidazolium based.2,6


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