While many practically important electrolytes contain lithium ions, interactions of these ions are particularly difficult to probe experimentally because of their small X-ray and neutron scattering cross sections and large neutron absorption cross sections. Molecular dynamics (MD) is a powerful tool for understanding the properties of nonaqueous electrolyte solutions from the atomic level, but the accuracy of this computational method crucially depends on the physics built into the classical force field. Here, we demonstrate that several force fields for lithium bistriflimide (LiTFSI) in acetonitrile yield a solution structure that is consistent with the neutron scattering experiments, yet these models produce dramatically different ion dynamics in solution. Such glaring discrepancies indicate that inadequate representation of long-range interactions leads to excessive ionic association and ion-pair clustering. We show that reasonable agreement with the experimental observations can be achieved by renormalization of the ion charges using a "titration" method suggested herewith. This simple modification produces realistic concentration dependencies for ionic diffusion and conductivity in <2 M solutions, without loss in quality for simulation of the structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3214-3220
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 16 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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