: The metal-based deep eutectic solvent (MDES) formed by NiCl2·6H2O and urea in 1:3.5 molar ratio has been prepared for the first time and characterized from a structural point of view. Particular accent has been put on the role of water in the MDES formation, since the eutectic could not be obtained with the anhydrous form of the metal salt. To this end, mixtures at different water/MDES molar ratios (W) have been studied with a combined approach exploiting molecular dynamics and ab initio simulations, UV-vis and near-infra-red spectroscopies, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements. In the pure MDES, a close packing of Ni2+ ion clusters forming oligomeric agglomerates is present thanks to the mediation of bridging chloride anions and water molecules. Conversely, urea poorly coordinates the metal ion and is mostly found in the interstitial regions among the Ni2+ ion oligomers. This nanostructure is disrupted upon the introduction of additional water, which enlarges the Ni-Ni distances and dilutes the system up to an aqueous solution of the MDES constituents. In the NiCl2·6H2O 1:3.5 MDES, the Ni2+ ion is coordinated on average by one chloride anion and five water molecules, while water easily saturates the metal solvation sphere to provide a hexa-aquo coordination for increasing W values. This multidisciplinary study allowed us to reconstruct the structural arrangement of the MDES and its aqueous mixtures on both short- and intermediate-scale levels, clarifying the fundamental role of water in the eutectic formation and challenging the definition at the base of these complex systems.
On the Role of Water in the Formation of a Deep Eutectic Solvent Based on NiCl2·6H2O and Urea / Busato, Matteo; Tofoni, Alessandro; Mannucci, Giorgia; Tavani, Francesco; Del Giudice, Alessandra; Colella, Andrea; Giustini, Mauro; D'Angelo, Paola. - In: INORGANIC CHEMISTRY. - ISSN 0020-1669. - (2022). [10.1021/acs.inorgchem.2c00864]