Project title: Dynamics of ionic liquids in confinement and the performance of ionic liquid based Electroactuators
The rediscovery of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILS) some 15 years ago was a revolution in chemistry. One could count solvents in the past, but now we have thousands of RTILs. Their mixtures allow to build ‘designer solvents’ targeted at each specific purpose. The applications are vast, but I focus on just three of them, based on the fact that RTILs are solvents, yet, at the same time, solvent-free electrolytes. For this reason they can be used as electrolytes in supercapacitors and electroactuators, as well as lubricants. In each of these categories spectacular new effects have been recently discovered, such as enhanced capacitance in nanopores, anomalously fast charging dynamics and ‘quantized’ friction. Such effects are due to the behavior of ionic liquids in confined geometries, and on the properties of electrical double layer near a charged interface.
So far, my work has focused on describing the dynamical charging and intrinsic properties of a supercapacitor. The ultimate goal of my project is to develop a dynamic theory of electroactuators impregnated by ionic liquids. The is large academic interest in electroactuators due to their use as artificial muscles, sensors, or even energy generators in turbulent flows or tides.