First place: Artistic Interpretation of the Structure of Ionic Liquids

Catherine Smith
PhD student in the group of Dr Melanie Britton


Ionic liquids are salts that have low melting points and so are liquid at room temperature. They are made up of positively charged cations and negatively charged anions. When nanoparticles are added to ionic liquids, the systems can become more viscous and form gels or suspensions. These systems have applications in batteries and solar panels as they can be designed to have high electrical conductivity. The underlying interactions between the nanoparticles and the ionic liquid need to be understood further so that their applicability can be improved.

It has been found in some systems that the cations, shown in red, interact preferentially with the nanoparticles. The stability of the system is dependant on the anion, shown in the blue. Depending on the ionic liquid, sometimes the nanoparticles are stabilised individually, as seen on the left, or aggregate to form clumps, as seen on the right. The purple represents the mixture of cations and anions in the bulk solution.