Ben Mclean
(Graduate Student)

PhD Project: “Hofmeister Effects in Ionic Liquids

My current research aims at examining Hofmeister effects in ionic liquids (ILs) using a combination of Amplitude Modulated-Atomic Force Microscopy (AM-AFM) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the nanostructure of ILs at the solid-liquid interface.

Proposed first in 1888, the Hofmeister series is a qualitative ordering of ions based on their propensity to salt-out proteins from aqueous solution. The Hofmeister effect is ubiquitous in science and is unable to be explained using current theories without conflict. This work overall aims to provide vital clues in solving this over 100-year old mystery.

AM-AFM allows IL interfacial nanostructure to be probed with atomic resolution. Using this technique, the Hofmeister effect on the interfacial morphology of ILs can be investigated. Adsorption and kinetic effects for a variety of ILs and surfaces are aimed to be observed in situ using applied electric fields to manipulate the ions of the IL and added salt at the interface.

Fully atomistic force fields designed specifically for use with ILs will be utilised to simulate these solid-liquid interfaces and provide a detailed insight into specific interactions and Hofmeister effects in these systems.

Other research interests include the use of ILs as stable dispersion media for carbonaceous material such as graphene and single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs).

Past research has investigated subclasses of ILs (Solvate ILs and Deep Eutectic Solvents) in terms of interfacial nanostructure using AFM and density functional theory (DFT) calculations.    


1. Chen, Z., McLean, B., Ludwig, M., Stefanovic, R., Warr, G. G., Webber, G. B., Page, A. J., Atkin, R., “Nanostructure of Deep Eutectic Solvents at the Graphite Electrode Interface as a Function of Potential”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2016, 120, 2225-2233.

2.  McLean, B., Li, H., Stefanovic, R., Wood, R. J., Ueno, K., Watanabe, M., Warr G. G., Page, A. J., Atkin, R., "Nanostructure of [Li(G4)]TFSI and [Li(G4)]NO3 solvate ionic liquids at HOPG and Au(111) electrode interfaces as a function of potential", Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2014, 17, 325-333.

© 2015