An ab initio study of the structure and energetics of hydrogen bonding in ionic liquids

Kaycee Low, Samuel Y.S. Tan, Ekaterina I. Izgorodina

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Unlike typical hydrogen-bonded networks such as water, hydrogen bonded ionic liquids display some unusual characteristics due to the complex interplay of electrostatics, polarization, and dispersion forces in the bulk. Protic ionic liquids in particular contain close-to traditional linear hydrogen bonds that define their physicochemical properties. This work investigates whether hydrogen bonded ionic liquids (HBILs) can be differentiated from aprotic ionic liquids with no linear hydrogen bonds using state-of-the-art ab initio calculations. This is achieved through geometry optimizations of a series of single ion pairs of HBILs in the gas phase and an implicit solvent. Using benchmark CCSD(T)/CBS calculations, the electrostatic and dispersion components of the interaction energy of these systems are compared with those of aprotic ionic liquids. The inclusion of the implicit solvent significantly influenced geometries of single ion pairs, with the gas phase shortening the hydrogen bond to reduce electrostatic interactions. HBILs were found to have stronger interactions by at least 100 kJ mol -1 over aprotic ILs, clearly highlighting the electrostatic nature of hydrogen bonding. Geometric and energetic parameters were found to complement each other in determining the extent of hydrogen bonding present in these ionic liquids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number208
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Ab initio
  • Dispersion
  • Electrostatics
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Interaction energy
  • Ionic liquids
  • Protic ionic liquids

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