The technologically important properties of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are fundamentally linked to the ion–ion interactions present among the constituent ions. These ion–ion interactions in one RTIL (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium trifluoromethanesulfonate, [C2mim]CF3SO3) are characterized with transmission FTIR spectroscopy and polarized attenuated total reflection (ATR) FTIR spectroscopy. A quasilattice model is determined to be the best framework for understanding the ionic interactions. A novel spectroscopic approach is proposed to characterize the degree of order that is present in the quasilattice by comparing the dipole moment derivative calculated from two independent spectroscopic measurements: (1) the TO–LO splitting of a vibrational mode using dipolar coupling theory and (2) the optical constants of the material derived from polarized ATR experiments. In principle, dipole moment derivatives calculated from dipolar coupling theory should be similar to those calculated from the optical constants if the quasilattice of the RTIL is highly structured. However, a significant disparity for the two calculations is noted for [C2mim]CF3SO3, indicating that the quasilattice of [C2mim]CF3SO3 is somewhat disorganized. The potential ability to spectroscopically characterize the structure of the quasilattice, which governs the long-range ion–ion interactions in a RTIL, is a major step forward in understanding the interrelationship between the molecular-level interactions among the constituent ions of an ionic liquid and the important physical properties of the RTIL
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