We like to use ionic liquids for separation purposes, e.g. to separate lipids from proteins in such a way that the proteins remain intact (i.e. retain structural integrity). We therefore formulate the ILs in water so that there is a large surface area between the IL and water. This calls for the making of IL-in-water emulsions. In this project we search for strategies to make such an emulsion. We use our experience in the field of complex coacervates to formulate the systems.
We are interested in fundamental aspects of the ionic liquid-water interface and how effective emulsifiers can reduce the IL-water interfacial tension. To understand such questions we need to understand the forces that keep the IL phase together, that is, we search for the role of electrostatics and evaluate how strong these are in comparison to, e.g., hydrophobic forces.
Anticipating polymeric emulsifiers we are planning to use thermo-responsive polymers to control the colloidal stability of the IL-in-water emulsions. Smart separation applications further are anticipated by the use of magnetic responsive ILs. Such emulsions can be separated by an external magnetic field.