Design and synthesis of new porous organic materials: Porous liquids

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Chemistry


James et al. proposed the idea of a novel class of porous materials in 2007. These were described as 'liquids with well-defined pores within the molecular capable of molecular recognition of other species.'1 Several classes of porous liquids have been defined based on their molecular structure and whether solvent molecules are present. Porous liquids are unlike conventional liquids as their cavities remain empty even if solvent molecules are present and the pores are within the molecules themselves. The properties of these materials would allow them to be used in a number of applications, such as gas separation and hydrogen storage.
The project will follow on from the work by Copper et al. who synthesised a porous liquid from porous organic cages in PCP. There are several problems with the current system as there was relatively low porosity compared to similar solid materials. PCP is also an expensive and toxic solvent so not ideal for large scale use. The aim of the project is to overcome these issues by improving porosity by at least 50%. New systems will be explored in order to do this, particularly moving towards porous cage ionic liquids.

O'Reilly, N., Giri, N., and James, S.L., Porous Liquids. Chem. Eur. J. 2007, 13, 3020 - 3025.
Giri, N., Del Pópolo, M.G., Melaugh, G., Greenaway. R.L.,Rätzke, K., Koschine, T.,Pison, L., Costa Gomes, M. F., Cooper, A.I, and James, S.L.. Liquids with permeant porosity. Nature. 2015, 527, 216-221.
Zhang, J., Chai, S. H., Qiao, Z. A., Mahurin, S. M., Chen, J., Fang, Y., Wang, S., Nelson, K., Zhang, P., and Dai, S. Porous liquids: A promising class of media for gas separation. Angew. Chemie - Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 932 -936


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Kearsey RJ (2019) Accelerated robotic discovery of type II porous liquids. in Chemical science

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509693/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1796579 Studentship EP/N509693/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Rachel Kearsey
Description We have developed the area and understanding of porous liquids throughout this grant. Porous liquids are a new area of materials chemistry described as liquids with permanent porosity. Through this project we have been able to discover new systems and learn more about their design, which will not only further the field but help others develop their research. We have also looked to making porous liquids more commercially viable by exploring gas capture and release mechanisms using temperature.
Exploitation Route We have generated a library of 100 new porous liquids and once our research has been published, we hope it provides information essential for designing efficient systems. In the future, our work could help target specific applications such as gas separations.
Sectors Chemicals

Description Collaboration on developing porous liquids 
Organisation Queen's University Belfast
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have an ongoing collaboration with Queen's University Belfast and Stuart Jame's research group, in particular. We have a large shared grant outside this project with aims of advancing the field of porous liquids. We visit and present up dates on our research to ensure no overlap. We have specialist equipment that allows us to advance the filed significantly and have hosted visiting researchers to help progress their research.
Collaborator Contribution The team at Queen's University help host discussions on current research and share ideas on how to improve. They also have joint projects with our group where we provide material for them to test, or vise versa.
Impact The main focus is synthetic chemistry and expanding the field of porous liquids
Start Year 2016
Description Investigation into properties of porous liquids using Xe NMR 
Organisation University of Oulu
Department NMR Research Unit
Country Finland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration is as a result of findings from high-throughput work carried out at University of Liverpool. There were several new porous liquids that needed to be studied in further detail. We were able to provide samples and data to establish a collaboration to use Xe NMR to study their behavior.
Collaborator Contribution The collaborators have started preliminary testing on our systems to learn more details how they take up xenon gas. They are studying the behavior of the gas in the porous liquid to see where it resides. and help use learn more about the kinetics. There are several different components of a Type II porous liquid and we are interested in seeing the effect of varying these on Xe NMR.
Impact Xe NMR is very specialist and our research group has not the expertise to do in depth studies. Our group is able to design and synthesis the materials whereas some specialist analytical techniques are needed to fully characterize them
Start Year 2018
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is a annual exhibition held at the Royal Society where researchers present their work to the general public. Activities are planned and presented to a range of audiences including school groups and families. It was estimated that 14000 people attended in July 2017. I was part of helping on the stand where I engaged with the public and explained about my PhD studies. I talked to a wide range of people with a variety of science knowledge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017