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Author ORCID ID is 0000000256842675
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  1. We report that the characteristic nanoscale dynamics of the alkyl side groups in the light-emitting polymer poly[2-methoxy-5-(2'-ethyl-hexyloxy)-1,4-phenylene vinylene] have been investigated using quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS). The measurements were taken below the polymer's glass transition (T ≤ T g ≃ 353 K), where the main backbone is in a rigid state and does not contribute to the broadening of the QENS signal. An analytical diffusion model consisting of a static term and two dynamical components, characterizing the flexible side groups, provide an excellent fit to the experimental data. The two observed dynamical processes are all localized in character, with nomore » meaningful dependence on temperature. The faster process, with characteristic timescale of ~18 ps at room temperature (RT), can be linked to the average mobility of the terminal protons of the alkyl chain, while the slower process, with characteristic timescale of ~170 ps at RT, to those protons at the other end of the alkyl chain, closest to the backbone. Lastlyl, while the fraction of mobile protons contributing to the QENS signal increases with increasing temperature, the characteristic timescale and confining volume within which the protons are able to move locally depend chiefly on the polymer conformational state.« less
  2. Individual water molecules or small clusters of water molecules contained within microporous minerals present an extreme case of confinement where the local structure of hydrogen bond networks are dramatically altered from bulk water. In the zinc silicate hemimorphite, the water molecules form a two-dimensional hydrogen bond network with hydroxyl groups in the crystal framework. Here in this paper, we present a combined experimental and theoretical study of the structure and dynamics of water molecules within this network. The water molecules undergo a continuous phase transition in their orientational configuration analogous to a two-dimensional Ising model. The incoherent dynamic structure factormore » reveals two thermally activated relaxation processes, one on a subpicosecond timescale and another on a 10–100 ps timescale, between 70 and 130 K. The slow process is an in-plane reorientation of the water molecule involving the breaking of hydrogen bonds with a framework that, despite the low temperatures involved, is analogous to rotational diffusion of water molecules in the bulk liquid. The fast process is a localized motion of the water molecule with no apparent analogs among known bulk or confined phases of water.« less
  3. Molecular dynamics is a fundamental property of metal complexes. These dynamic processes, especially for paramagnetic complexes under external magnetic fields, are in general not well understood. Quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS) in 0–4 T magnetic fields has been used to study the dynamics of Co(acac) 2(D 2O) 2 (1- d 4, acac = acetylacetonate). At 80–100 K, rotation of the methyl groups on the acac ligands is the dominant dynamical process. This rotation is slowed down by the magnetic field increase. Rotation times at 80 K are 5.6(3) × 10 –10 s at 0 T and 2.04(10) × 10 –9 smore » at 4 T. The QENS studies suggest that methyl groups in these paramagnetic Co(II) molecules do not behave as isolated units, which is consistent with results from earlier magnetic susceptibility studies indicating the presence of intermolecular interactions. DFT calculations show that unpaired electron spin density in 1 is dispersed to the atoms of both acac and H 2O ligands. Methyl torsions in 1- d 4 have also been observed at 5–100 K in inelastic neutron spectroscopy (INS). In conclusion, the QENS and INS results here help understand the dynamics of the compound in the solid state.« less
  4. The full utilization of plant biomass for the production of energy and novel materials often involves high temperature treatment. Examples include melt spinning of lignin for manufacturing low-cost carbon fiber and the relocalization of lignin to increase the accessibility of cellulose for production of biofuels. These temperature-induced effects arise from poorly understood changes in lignin flexibility. Here, we combine molecular dynamics simulations with neutron scattering and dielectric spectroscopy experiments to probe the dependence of lignin dynamics on hydration and thermal history. We find a dynamical and structural hysteresis: at a given temperature, the lignin molecules are more expanded and theirmore » dynamics faster when the lignin is cooled than when heated. The structural hysteresis is more pronounced for dry lignin. The difference in dynamics, however, follows a different trend, it is found to be more significant at high temperatures and high hydration levels. The simulations also reveal syringyl units to be more dynamic than guiacyl. The results provide an atomic-detailed description of lignin dynamics, important for understanding lignin role in plant cell wall mechanics and for rationally improving lignin processing. The lignin glass transition, at which the polymer softens, is lower when lignin is cooled than when heated, therefore extending the cooling phase of processing and shortening the heating phase may offer ways to lower processing costs.« less
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  5. A detailed understanding of the diffusion mechanisms of ions in pure and doped ionic liquids remains an important aspect in the design of new ionic-liquid electrolytes for energy storage. Here, to gain more insight into the widely used imidazolium-based ionic liquids, the relationship between viscosity, ionic conductivity, diffusion coefficients, and reorientational dynamics in the ionic liquid 3-methyl-1-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (DMIM-TFSI) with and without lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (Li-TFSI) was examined. The diffusion coefficients for the DMIM + cation and the role of ion aggregates were investigated by using the quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS) and neutron spin echo techniques. Two diffusion mechanisms are observedmore » for the DMIM + cation with and without Li-TFSI, that is, translational and local. The data additionally suggest that Li + ion transport along with ion aggregates, known as the vehicle mechanism, may play a significant role in the ion diffusion process. These dielectric-spectroscopy investigations in a broad temperature and frequency range reveal a typical α–β-relaxation scenario. The α relaxation mirrors the glassy freezing of the dipolar ions, and the β relaxation exhibits the signatures of a Johari–Goldstein relaxation. In contrast to the translational mode detected by neutron scattering, arising from the decoupled faster motion of the DMIM + ions, the α relaxation is well coupled to the dc charge transport, that is, the average translational motion of all three ion species in the material. Finally, the local diffusion process detected by QENS is only weakly dependent on temperature and viscosity and can be ascribed to the typical fast dynamics of glass-forming liquids.« less
  6. Direct experimental insights into the structural and dynamical mechanisms for ferroelectric β to paraelectric α phase transition in a poled PVDF-TrFE copolymer is obtained from in situ x-ray diffraction and quasielastic neutron scattering measurements at high temperatures. It is observed that the β-to-α phase transition proceeds through two energetically distinct processes, which are identified here as the nucleation and growth of an intermediate γ phase with random skew linkages followed by a γ-to-α transition. The two energetically distinct microscopic processes can explain the stages of evolution for β-to-α phase transition observed from heat flow measurements.
  7. Two-dimensional carbides and nitrides of early transition metals (MXenes) combine high conductivity with hydrophilic surfaces, which make them promising for energy storage, electrocatalysis, and water desalination. Effects of intercalated metal ions on the vibrational states of water confined in Ti 3C 2T x MXenes have been explored using inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and molecular dynamics simulations to better understand the mechanisms that control MXenes’ behavior in aqueous electrolytes, water purification and other important applications. Here, we observe INS signal from water in all samples, pristine and with lithium, sodium or potassium ions intercalated between the 2D Ti 3C 2T xmore » layers. However, only a small amount of water is found to reside in Ti 3C 2T x intercalated with metal ions. Water in pristine Ti 3C 2T x is more disordered, with bulk-like characteristics, in contrast to intercalated Ti 3C 2T x, where water is more ordered, irrespective of the metal ions used for intercalation. The ordering of the confined water increases with the ion size. Lastly, this finding is further confirmed from molecular dynamics simulation which showed an increase in interference of water molecules with increasing ion size resulting in a concomitant decrease in water mobility, therefore, providing a guidance to tailor MXene properties for energy and environmental applications.« less
  8. Here, neutron diffraction and spectroscopies offer unique insight into structures and properties of solids and molecular materials. All neutron instruments located at the various neutron sources are distinct, even if their designs are based on similar principles, and thus, are usually less familiar to the community than commercial X–ray diffractometers and optical spectrometers. Major neutron instruments in the USA, which are open to scientists around the world, and examples of their use in coordination chemistry research are presented here, along with a list of similar instruments at main neutron facilities in other countries. The reader may easily and quickly findmore » from this mini–review an appropriate neutron instrument for research. The instruments include single–crystal and powder diffractometers to determine structures, inelastic neutron scattering (INS) spectrometers to probe magnetic and vibrational excitations, and quasielastic neutron scattering (QENS) spectrometers to study molecular dynamics such as methyl rotation on ligands. Key and unique features of the diffraction and neutron spectroscopies that are relevant to inorganic chemistry are reviewed.« less
  9. Present and future electrochemical devices employing advanced electrode and electrolyte materials are expected to operate in diverse environments, where they are exposed to variable conditions, such as changing humidity levels. Such conditions can possibly alter the microscopic mechanisms that influence the electrochemical performance. Here in this paper, using quasi-elastic neutron scattering and molecular dynamics simulations, we investigate the influence of humidity exposure on a room-temperature ionic liquid, [EMIm +][Tf 2N ], in Ti 3C 2T x MXene. Absorbed water enhances the microscopic mobility of confined [EMIm +][Tf 2N ], even though the ionic liquid itself is not very hygroscopic. Themore » absorbed water molecules predominantly reside on the termination groups of the more hydrophilic MXene layers, thereby displacing the ions from the surface and facilitating their motions in the MXene matrix.« less
  10. The (meta)stability of low water activity sodium hydroxide/aluminate (Na +OH–/Al(OH) 4–) electrolytes dictates kinetics in the Bayer process for aluminum refining and high-level nuclear waste processing. We utilized quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy ( 1H NMR) in extremely concentrated sodium aluminate solutions to investigate the picosecond (ps) to microsecond (ms) timescale motions of H-bearing species (Al(OH) 4– monomers/clusters, OH– and H 2O). In the QENS data, in contrast to typical liquids, no short-time translational diffusion was observed at 293 K, but two types of localized motions were found: (i) local backbone tumbling or a formationmore » of large hydrated ion clusters on the order of 40–60 ps; and (ii) much slower, complex, and collective dynamics of the ensemble of H-bearing species on the order of 350–750 ps. Variable temperature, pulsed field gradient, diffusion-ordered 1H NMR was used to determine the ensemble translational motion along with relaxometry to calculate rotational correlation coefficients. The ensemble rotational correlation times were on the order of 184–300 ps from 1H NMR, which is consistent with the timescale of the QENS components. Complementary molecular dynamics simulation of NaOH solutions exhibit extensive ion networks potentially responsible for the observed dynamical coupling of water with the motion of large hydrated ion clusters. Understanding these collective motions will aid in predicting the behavior of complex solutions during aluminum production and during nuclear waste processing.« less

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