Measurement of vibrational spectrum of liquid using monochromated scanning transmission electron microscopy-electron energy loss spectroscopy

Microscopy (Oxf). 2014 Oct;63(5):377-82. doi: 10.1093/jmicro/dfu023. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Investigations on the dynamic behavior of molecules in liquids at high spatial resolution are greatly desired because localized regions, such as solid-liquid interfaces or sites of reacting molecules, have assumed increasing importance with respect to improving material performance. In application to liquids, electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) observed with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a promising analytical technique with the appropriate resolutions. In this study, we obtained EELS spectra from an ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis (trifluoromethyl-sulfonyl) imide (C2mim-TFSI), chosen as the sampled liquid, using monochromated scanning TEM (STEM). The molecular vibrational spectrum and the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO)-lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) gap of the liquid were investigated. The HOMO-LUMO gap measurement coincided with that obtained from the ultraviolet-visible spectrum. A shoulder in the spectrum observed ∼0.4 eV is believed to originate from the molecular vibration. From a separately performed infrared observation and first-principles calculations, we found that this shoulder coincided with the vibrational peak attributed to the C-H stretching vibration of the [C2mim(+)] cation. This study demonstrates that a vibrational peak for a liquid can be observed using monochromated STEM-EELS, and leads one to expect observations of chemical reactions or aids in the analysis of the dynamic behavior of molecules in liquid.

Keywords: EELS; first-principles calculation; ionic liquid; liquid; low loss; molecular vibration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't