Research explores new class of solvents called ionic liquids
DECEMBER 6, 2018 BY
The professors are Nathan Hammer, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Greg Tschumper, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Joining them as authors of the paper are Charley Hutchison, who was a student at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland at the time the research was conducted; Chad Williams, a UM Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates student from Central Alabama Community College; and Sarah Johnson, an Ole Miss graduate student in chemistry.
The paper, “Hydration of Ionic Liquid Induces Vibrational Frequency Shifts to Higher Energy,” is the cover feature of the Dec. 6, Volume 122, No. 48 issue of the journal, which is published weekly by the American Chemical Society.
“In this work, we show how water molecules affect the physical properties of an important new class of solvents called ionic liquids,” Hammer said. “Ionic liquids are salts that are actually liquid at room temperature and that have important uses in a number of applications, including nuclear waste disposal.”
Understanding how water affects the properties of ionic liquids will help the professors and students identify potential hazards and considerations for their use, Hammer said. It also will help them better engineer future ionic liquid mixtures that take advantage of predictable and designer properties.
“This work will also help computational chemists identify the best computational methods and practices for the accurate modeling of similar systems,” he said.
The professors all specialize in different areas, with Hammer concentrating on molecular spectroscopy, Hussey on ionic liquids and Tschumper on computational chemistry.
Hutchison conceived of and started the project during a summer research experience at UM, and Williams worked on the project during a summer. Johnson took what the younger students had started and completed it at a high level, Hammer said.
The cover spot highlights the research to funding agencies – both those that funded the work and also those that might be solicited for future funding, Hammer said. And it “gives us media resources to use in recruiting high-quality graduate students to our department and individual research groups.”
The cover also brings attention to research being done across campus.
“Whenever a paper or other scholarly work is featured on the cover of a prominent journal, it helps raise the national and international awareness of the important and outstanding research being performed at the University of Mississippi,” Tschumper said.