Unlike the interface between two immiscible electrolyte solutions (ITIES) formed between water and polar solvents, molecular understanding of the liquid-liquid interface formed for aqueous biphasic systems (ABSs) is relatively limited and mostly relies on surface tension measurements and thermodynamic models. Here, high-resolution Raman imaging is used to provide spatial and chemical resolution of the interface of LiCl-LiTFSI-water and HCl-LiTFSI-water, prototypical salt-salt ABSs found in a range of electrochemical applications. The concentration profiles of both TFSI anions and water are found to be sigmoidal, in agreement with an increasing surface tension as a function of concentration, both being typical of a negative adsorption mechanism. More striking, however, is the length at which the concentration profiles extend, ranging from 11 to 2 m with increasing concentrations, compared to a few nanometers for ITIES. We thus reveal that unlike ITIES, salt-salt ABSs do not have a molecularly sharp interface but rather form an interphase with a gradual change of environment from one phase to the other. This knowledge represents a major stepping-stone in the understanding of aqueous interfaces, key for mastering ion or electron transfer dynamics in a wide range of biological and technological settings including novel battery technologies such as membraneless redox flow and dual ion batteries.
Supporting Information: Direct Imaging of Micrometer Thick Interfaces in Salt-Salt Aqueous Biphasic Systems