Amino acid-based ionic liquids: using XPS to probe the electronic environment via binding energies

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Oct 21;13(39):17737-48. doi: 10.1039/c1cp21763a. Epub 2011 Sep 7.


Here we report the synthesis and characterisation by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) of eight high purity amino acid-based ionic liquids (AAILs), each containing the 1-octyl-3-methylimidazolium, [C(8)C(1)Im](+), as a standard reference cation. All expected elements were observed and the electronic environments of these elements identified. A fitting model for the carbon 1s region of the AAILs is reported; the C aliphatic component of the cation was used as an internal reference to obtain a series of accurate and reproducible binding energies. Comparisons are made between XP spectra of the eight AAILs and selected non-functionalised ionic liquids. 1-octyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate was also studied as a model of the carboxyl containing amino acid anion. The influence of anionic substituent groups on the measured binding energies of all elements is presented, and communication between anion and cation is investigated. This data is interpreted in terms of hard and soft anions and compared to the Kamlet-Taft hydrogen bond acceptor ability, β, for the ionic liquids. A linear correlation is presented which suggests that the functional side chain, or R group, of the amino acid has little impact upon the electronic environment of the charge-bearing moieties within the anions and cations studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry*
  • Borates / chemistry
  • Electrons
  • Imidazoles / chemistry
  • Ionic Liquids / chemical synthesis*
  • Ionic Liquids / chemistry*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Thermodynamics*
  • X-Rays


  • 1-octyl-3-methylimidazolium
  • Amino Acids
  • Borates
  • Imidazoles
  • Ionic Liquids