We show for the first time that hard trivalent cations can be repelled or attracted by the extractant-enriched interface according to the nature of the ligand.
Knowledge of the (supra)molecular structure of an interface that contains amphiphilic ligand molecules is necessary for a full understanding of ion transfer during solvent extraction. Even if molecular dynamics already yield some insight in the molecular configurations in solution, hardly any experimental data giving access to distributions of both extractant molecules and ions at the liquid–liquid interface exist. Here, the combined application of X-ray and neutron reflectivity measurements represents a key milestone in the deduction of the interfacial structure and potential with respect to two different lipophilic ligands. Indeed, we show for the first time that hard trivalent cations can be repelled or attracted by the extractant-enriched interface according to the nature of the ligand.
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E. Scoppola, E. B. Watkins, R. A. Campbell, O. Konovalov, L. Girard, J.-F. Dufrêche, G. Ferru, G. Fragneto and O. Diat. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 128(32), 9472 (2016).