Crystallisation kinetics of some archetypal ionic liquids: isothermal and non-isothermal determination of the Avrami exponent

Steven J. Pas, Matthew S Dargusch, Douglas R MacFarlane

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The properties of ionic liquids give rise to applications in diverse technology areas including mechanical engineering, mining, aerospace and defence. The arbitrary physical property that defines an ionic liquid is a melting point below 100 °C, and as such, an understanding of crystallisation phenomena is extremely important. This is the first report dealing with the mechanism of crystallisation in ionic liquids. Assuming crystallisation of the ionic liquids is a thermal or mass diffusion-controlled process, the values of the isothermal Avrami exponent obtained from three different ionic liquids with three different anions and cations all indicate that growth occurs with a decreasing nucleation rate (n = 1.8-2.2). For one of the ionic liquids it was possible to avoid crystallisation by fast cooling and then observe a devitrification upon heating through the glass transition. The isothermal Avrami exponent of devitrification suggested growth with an increasing nucleating rate (n = 4.1), compared to a decreasing nucleation rate when crystallisation occurs on cooling from the melt (n = 2.0). Two non-isothermal methods were employed to determine the Avrami exponent of devitrification. Both non-isothermal Avrami exponents were in agreement with the isothermal case (n = 4.0-4.15). The applicability of JMAK theory suggests that the nucleation event in the ionic liquids selected is a random stochastic process in the volume of the material. Agreement between the isothermal and non-isothermal techniques for determining the Avrami exponent of devitrification suggests that the pre-exponential factor and the activation energy are independent of thermal history. The heating rate dependence of the glass transition enabled the calculation of the fragility index, which suggests that the ionic liquid is a "strong" glass former. This suggests that the temperature dependence of the rate constant could be close to Arrhenius, as assumed by JMAK theory. More generally, therefore, it can be concluded that there is nothing unusual about the crystallisation mechanism of the ionic liquids studied here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12033-12040
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2011

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