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Multiple Ensembles of the Hydrogen‐bonded Network in Ethylammonium Nitrate versus Water from Vibrational Spectral Dynamics of SCN− Probe

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A molecular-level interpretation of the solvation environment associated dynamics and spectroscopic properties of the nitrile stretching mode of the thiocyanate probe in protic ionic liquid, ethylammonium nitrate (EAN) versus water (H2O) from a fast and accurate computational method is reported. The frequency dependence of the reorientation anisotropy dynamics of SCN within the ionic liquid framework indicates multiple hydrogen-bonding subensembles in EAN as compared to H2O.


We performed classical molecular dynamics simulations to monitor the structural interactions and ultrafast dynamical and spectral response in the protic ionic liquid, ethylammonium nitrate (EAN) and water using the nitrile stretching mode of thiocyanate ion (SCN) as the vibrational probe. The normalized frequency distribution of the nitrile stretch in SCN attains an asymmetric shape in EAN, indicating the existence of more than one hydrogen-bonding environment in EAN. Further, we computed the 2D IR spectrum from classical trajectories, applying the response function formalism. Spectral diffusion dynamics in EAN undergo an initial rattling of the SCN inside the local ion-cage occurring at a timescale of 0.10 ps, followed by the breakup of the ion-cage activating molecular diffusion at 7.86 ps timescale. In contrast, the dynamics of structural reorganization occur at a timescale of 0.58 ps in H2O. Hence, the time dependence of the frequency-frequency correlation function decay hints at the local molecular structure and ultrafast ion dynamics of the SCN probe. The loss of frequency correlation read from the peak shape changes in the 2D correlation spectrum as a function of waiting time is faster in H2O than in EAN due to the enhanced structural ordering and higher viscosity of the latter. We provide an atomic-level interpretation of the solvation environment around SCN in EAN and water, which indicates multiple ensembles of the hydrogen bond network in EAN.

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