Research Supervisor Connect

Why are Ionic Liquids Extraordinary Solvents?


The use of ionic liquids has exploded over the last decades as solvents for unusual or difficult chemical syntheses.  These liquids consist solely of ions and have melting points near, or in many cases, below room temperature.  Consequently they have negligible vapour pressures and are generally viewed as ‘green,’ but are also excellent solvents for diverse classes of solutes.  This enables dissolution of complex and otherwise insoluble complex species, and also reactions between otherwise mutually insoluble reactants.  What features of ILs allow these phenomena to occur?


Professor Gregory Warr.

Research location

School of Chemistry

Program type



Many ionic liquids are stable because, like larger, more complex species, they have competing intermolecular forces that drive a kind of self-assembly.  That is, ionic liquids are frequently structured on a supramolecular but still nanometer scale; cations and anions are organized into discrete clusters, threads, layers, or interpenetrating bicontinuous networks, and these comprise nanodomains that are chemically distinct.  An IL may not only have cationic and anionic regions, but also polar and nonpolar regions.  Importantly, different kinds of solutes may dissolve or be partitioned into different domains.  Thus a single IL may be a good solvent for both polar and nonpolar reagents.  In this project we will investigate how the nanostructure of ILs are affected by different solutes, and how this affects solubility.  Our primary tool will be neutron diffraction, which allows us to experimentally determine the distribution and relative orientation of different molecular species and even individual functional groups into solvation shells, and also reveals the longer-range nanostructure in the liquid.

Additional information

Scholarships are available to high quality students. Most local students in the laboratory are supported by an Australian or University Postgraduate Award. International students are supported by a variety of other scholarships. Industrial funded projects are also available from time to time. Please contact me for further details.

HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1493

Other opportunities with Professor Gregory Warr