Document Type: Research Paper
An ionic liquid (IL) is a salt in the liquid state. In some contexts, the term has been restricted to salts whose melting point is below some arbitrary temperature, such as 100 °C. While ordinary liquids such as water and gasoline are predominantly made of electrically neutral molecules, ionic liquids are largely made of ions and short-lived ion pairs. These substances are variously called liquid electrolytes, ionic melts, ionic fluids, fused salts, liquid salts, or ionic glasses. They are known as "solvents of the future" as well as designer solvents. Very polar reactions can be carried out in these liquid in the absence of or with a controlled amount of water, and crystalline nanoparticles can be synthesized conveniently at ambient temperatures. The pronounced self-organization of the solvent is used in the synthesis of self-assembled, highly organized hybrid nanostructures with unparalleled quality. The extraordinary potential of ionic liquids in materials synthesis is described in this mini-review and a physicochemical explanation is given.