Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Science and Technology of China (2012)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University (2017)

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Extraordinary Slowing of Structural Dynamics in Thin Films of a Room Temperature Ionic Liquid. ACS central science Nishida, J., Breen, J. P., Wu, B., Fayer, M. D. 2018; 4 (8): 1065–73


    The role that interfaces play in the dynamics of liquids is a fundamental scientific problem with vast importance in technological applications. From material science to biology, e.g., batteries to cell membranes, liquid properties at interfaces are frequently determinant in the nature of chemical processes. For most liquids, like water, the influence of an interface falls off on a 1 nm distance scale. Room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are a vast class of unusual liquids composed of complex cations and anions that are liquid salts at room temperature. They are unusual liquids with properties that can be finely tuned by selecting the structure of the cation and anion. RTILs are being used or developed in applications such as batteries, CO2 capture, and liquids for biological processes. Here, it is demonstrated quantitatively that the influence of an interface on RTIL properties is profoundly different from that observed in other classes of liquids. The dynamics of planar thin films of the room temperature ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (BmimNTf2), were investigated using two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy (2D IR) with the CN stretch of SeCN- as the vibrational probe. The structural dynamics (spectral diffusion) of the thin films with controlled nanometer thicknesses were measured and compared to the dynamics of the bulk liquid. The samples were prepared by spin coating the RTIL, together with the vibrational probe, onto a surface functionalized with an ionic monolayer that mimics the structure of the BmimNTf2. Near-Brewster's angle reflection pump-probe geometry 2D IR facilitated the detection of the exceedingly small signals from the films, some of which were only 14 nm thick. Even in quarter micron (250 nm) thick films, the observed dynamics were much slower than those of the bulk liquid. Using a new theoretical description, the correlation length (exponential falloff of the influence of the interfaces) was found to be 28 ± 5 nm. This very long correlation length, 30 times greater than that of water, has major implications for the use of RTILs in devices and other applications.

    View details for PubMedID 30159404

  • Structural analysis of zwitterionic liquids vs. homologous ionic liquids JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Wu, B., Kuroda, K., Takahashi, K., Castner, E. W. 2018; 148 (19)

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.5010983

    View details for Web of Science ID 000432853800011

  • Structure and dynamics of propylammonium nitrate-acetonitrile mixtures: An intricate multi-scale system probed with experimental and theoretical techniques JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Campetella, M., Mariani, A., Sadun, C., Wu, B., Castner, E. W., Gontrani, L. 2018; 148 (13): 134507


    In this article, we report the study of structural and dynamical properties for a series of acetonitrile/propylammonium nitrate mixtures as a function of their composition. These systems display an unusual increase in intensity in their X-ray diffraction patterns in the low-q regime, and their 1H-NMR diffusion-ordered NMR spectroscopy (DOSY) spectra display unusual diffusivities. However, the magnitude of both phenomena for mixtures of propylammonium nitrate is smaller than those observed for ethylammonium nitrate mixtures with the same cosolvent, suggesting that the cation alkyl tail plays an important role in these observations. The experimental X-ray scattering data are compared with the results of molecular dynamics simulations, including both ab initio studies used to interpret short-range interactions and classical simulations to describe longer range interactions. The higher level calculations highlight the presence of a strong hydrogen bond network within the ionic liquid, only slightly perturbed even at high acetonitrile concentration. These strong interactions lead to the symmetry breaking of the NO3- vibrations, with a splitting of about 88 cm-1 in the ν3 antisymmetric stretch. The classical force field simulations use a greater number of ion pairs, but are not capable of fully describing the longest range interactions, although they do successfully account for the observed concentration trend, and the analysis of the models confirms the nano-inhomogeneity of these kinds of samples.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.5021868

    View details for Web of Science ID 000429359200041

    View details for PubMedID 29626911

  • Photoinduced Bimolecular Electron Transfer in Ionic Liquids: Cationic Electron Donors JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Wu, B., Liang, M., Zmich, N., Hatcher, J., Lall-Ramnarine, S. I., Wishart, J. F., Maroncelli, M., Castner, E. W. 2018; 122 (8): 2379–88


    Recently, we have reported a systematic study of photoinduced electron-transfer reactions in ionic liquid solvents using neutral and anionic electron donors and a series of cyano-substituted anthracene acceptors [ Wu , B. ; Maroncelli , M. ; Castner , E. W. Jr Photoinduced Bimolecular Electron Transfer in Ionic Liquids . J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139 , 2017 , 14568 ]. Herein, we report complementary results for a cationic class of 1-alkyl-4-dimethylaminopyridinium electron donors. Reductive quenching of cyano-substituted anthracene fluorophores by these cationic quenchers is studied in solutions of acetonitrile and the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide. Varying the length of the alkyl chain permits tuning of the quencher diffusivities in solution. The observed quenching kinetics are interpreted using a diffusion-reaction analysis. Together with results from the prior study, these results show that the intrinsic electron-transfer rate constant does not depend on the quencher charge in this family of reactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsjpcb.7b12542

    View details for Web of Science ID 000426802900020

    View details for PubMedID 29377698

  • Intriguing transport dynamics of ethylammonium nitrate-acetonitrile binary mixtures arising from nano-inhomogeneity PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS Mariani, A., Bonomo, M., Wu, B., Centrella, B., Dini, D., Castner, E. W., Gontrani, L. 2017; 19 (40): 27212–20


    Binary mixtures of ethylammonium nitrate and acetonitrile show interesting properties that originate from the structural and dynamical nano-heterogeneity present in ionic liquids. These effects are most pronounced when the ionic liquid is the minority compound. In this study the transport properties of such mixtures are studied, including viscosity, self-diffusion and conductivity. The results strongly support the presence of structural inhomogeneity and show an interesting composition-dependent behaviour in the mixtures.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c7cp04592a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000413290500007

    View details for PubMedID 28975937

  • Photoinduced Bimolecular Electron Transfer in Ionic Liquids JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Wu, B., Maroncelli, M., Castner, E. W. 2017; 139 (41): 14568–85


    The present work seeks to better understand the role of solute diffusion and solvation dynamics on bimolecular electron transfer in ionic liquids (ILs). Steady-state and time-resolved measurements of the reductive fluorescence quenching of five fluorophores ("F") by six quenchers ("Q"; electron donors) are reported in acetonitrile and two ionic liquids, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)amide and trihexyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)amide. Data were collected on 66 different F-Q-solvent systems, which span a 2.0 eV range in driving force and viscosities that vary 1000-fold, enabling stringent tests of bimolecular electron transfer models. A Stern-Volmer analysis yielded much larger diffusion-limited rates than simple kinetic theory predictions in the ILs and the absence of a Marcus turnover. Use of an approximate solution to the spherical diffusion-reaction equation enabled testing of several models for the reaction rate distance dependence. The Smoluchowski and Collins-Kimball models, which assume reaction at a single distance, are able to fit the data collected in acetonitrile solutions reasonably well, but not the data in the IL solvents. An extended sink model, incorporating a finite reaction zone, was able to fit all data satisfactorily with only three adjustable parameters. Diffusion coefficients extracted from these fits were much larger for the neutral versus anionic quenchers and close to predicted values. Molecular dynamics simulations and density-functional methods were then used to explore solvation structures and electronic couplings. The electronic coupling between contact F-Q pairs was found to vary strongly with the relative location and orientation of the reactants. Information from these simulations was used to constrain a model based on classical Marcus theory, which provided physically reasonable fits with only two adjustable parameters, but required systematic reduction of the driving forces in order to suppress a rate turnover at large driving force. The latter requirement indicates that reaction rates in ionic liquids are limited by some factor not properly accounted for in bimolecular electron transfer models based on a spherical diffusion-reaction approach. Small-amplitude motions within contact F-Q pairs, which gate the electronic coupling, are suggested to be the limiting dynamics.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.7b07611

    View details for Web of Science ID 000413503300036

    View details for PubMedID 28921977

  • Structure and dynamics of ionic liquids: Trimethylsilylpropyl-substituted cations and bis(sulfonyl)amide anions JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Wu, B., Yamashita, Y., Endo, T., Takahashi, K., Castner, E. W. 2016; 145 (24): 244506


    Ionic liquids with cationic organosilicon groups have been shown to have a number of useful properties, including reduced viscosities relative to the homologous cations with hydrocarbon substituents on the cations. We report structural and dynamical properties of four ionic liquids having a trimethylsilylpropyl functional group, including 1-methyl-3-trimethylsilylpropylimidazolium (Si-C3-mim+) cation paired with three anions: bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (FSI-), bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (NTf2-), and bis(pentafluoroethanesulfonyl)imide (BETI-), as well as the analogous N-methyl-N-trimethylsilylpropylpyrrolidinium (Si-C3-pyrr+) cation paired with NTf2-. This choice of ionic liquids permits us to systematically study how increasing the size and hydrophobicity of the anions affects the structural and transport properties of the liquid. Structure factors for the ionic liquids were measured using high energy X-ray diffraction and calculated from molecular dynamics simulations. The liquid structure factors reveal first sharp diffraction peaks (FSDPs) for each of the four ionic liquids studied. Interestingly, the domain size for Si-C3-mim+/NTf2- indicated by the maxima for these peaks is larger than for the more polar ionic liquid with a similar chain length, 1-pentamethyldisiloxymethyl-3-methyl-imidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (SiOSi-mim+/NTf2-). For the series of Si-C3-mim+ ionic liquids, as the size of the anion increases, the position of FSDP indicates that the intermediate range order domains decrease in size, contrary to expectation. Diffusivities for the anions and cations are compared for a series of both hydrocarbon-substituted and silicon-substituted cations. All of the anions show the same scaling with temperature, size, and viscosity, while the cations show two distinct trends-one for hydrocarbon-substituted cations and another for organosilicon-substituted cations, with the latter displaying increased friction.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4972410

    View details for Web of Science ID 000392174800040

    View details for PubMedID 28049333

  • Structure of ionic liquids with cationic silicon-substitutions JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Wu, B., Shirota, H., Lall-Ramnarine, S., Castner, E. W. 2016; 145 (11)

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4962257

    View details for Web of Science ID 000383959300022

  • Structure of cyano-anion ionic liquids: X-ray scattering and simulations JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Dhungana, K. B., Faria, L. O., Wu, B., Liang, M., Ribeiro, M. C., Margulis, C. J., Castner, E. W. 2016; 145 (2): 024503


    Ionic liquids with cyano anions have long been used because of their unique combination of low-melting temperatures, reduced viscosities, and increased conductivities. Recently we have shown that cyano anions in ionic liquids are particularly interesting for their potential use as electron donors to excited state photo-acceptors [B. Wu et al., J. Phys. Chem. B 119, 14790-14799 (2015)]. Here we report on bulk structural and quantum mechanical results for a series of ionic liquids based on the 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium cation, paired with the following five cyano anions: SeCN(-), SCN(-), N(CN)2 (-), C(CN)3 (-), and B(CN)4 (-). By combining molecular dynamics simulations, high-energy X-ray scattering measurements, and periodic boundary condition DFT calculations, we are able to obtain a comprehensive description of the liquid landscape as well as the nature of the HOMO-LUMO states for these ionic liquids in the condensed phase. Features in the structure functions for these ionic liquids are somewhat different than the commonly observed adjacency, charge-charge, and polarity peaks, especially for the bulkiest B(CN)4 (-) anion. While the other four cyano-anion ionic liquids present an anionic HOMO, the one for Im2,1 (+)/B(CN)4 (-) is cationic.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4955186

    View details for Web of Science ID 000381153600029

    View details for PubMedID 27421416

  • Photoinduced Bimolecular Electron Transfer from Cyano Anions in Ionic Liquids JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Wu, B., Liang, M., Maroncelli, M., Castner, E. W. 2015; 119 (46): 14790–99


    Ionic liquids with electron-donating anions are used to investigate rates and mechanisms of photoinduced bimolecular electron transfer to the photoexcited acceptor 9,10-dicyanoanthracene (9,10-DCNA). The set of five cyano anion ILs studied comprises the 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium cation paired with each of these five anions: selenocyanate, thiocyanate, dicyanamide, tricyanomethanide, and tetracyanoborate. Measurements with these anions dilute in acetonitrile and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)amide show that the selenocyanate and tricyanomethanide anions are strong quenchers of the 9,10-DCNA fluorescence, thiocyanate is a moderately strong quencher, dicyanamide is a weak quencher, and no quenching is observed for tetracyanoborate. Quenching rates are obtained from both time-resolved fluorescence transients and time-integrated spectra. Application of a Smoluchowski diffusion-and-reaction model showed that the complex kinetics observed can be fit using only two adjustable parameters, D and V0, where D is the relative diffusion coefficient between donor and acceptor and V0 is the value of the electronic coupling at donor-acceptor contact.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b09216

    View details for Web of Science ID 000365463200022

    View details for PubMedID 26501776