Prof Andrew P Abbott

Prof A P Abbott

Professor of Physical Chemistry
BSc (CNAA), PhD (Southampton)
Tel : +44 (0)116 252 2087
Email :
Research Group : Materials and Interfaces

Current research centres on the area of novel environmentally compatible solvents.

Awards Received

Research Interests

For current postgraduate opportunities, please click here.

For current postdoctoral opportunities, please click here.

Ionic Liquids

The group has developed a series of ionic liquids based on eutectic mixtures of quaternary ammonium salts with either metal salts or hydrogen bond donors.

Series of ionic liquids containing Copper (II) Chloride
We have developed a fundamental insight into the viscosity, conductivity and mass transport in all types of ionic liquids. We have shown that the large ion size means that mass transport is limited by the availability of holes for ions to move into. This means that viscosity can be modelled using hole theory and conductivity can be modelled using a Nernst Einstein model because the holes are effectively at infinite dilution. It was shown that classical diffusion does not occur in ionic liquids with ions moving by a series of jumps between suitably sized voids.


  1. A. P. Abbott, G. Capper, D. L. Davies, R. Rasheed and V. Tambyrajah “Novel Solvent Properties of Choline Chloride/ Urea Mixtures” Chem. Commun, 2003, 70-71.
  2. A. P. Abbott, D. Boothby, G. Capper, D. L. Davies, R. Rasheed and V. Tambyrajah “Deep Eutectic Solvents Formed Between Choline Chloride and Carboxylic Acids” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2004, 126, 9142
  3. A.P. Abbott, G. Frisch, H. Garrett, and J. Hartley, "Ionic liquids form ideal solutions",Chem Commun, 2011, 47(43), 11876-11878.
  4. A. P. Abbott, “Model for the Conductivity of Ionic Fluids Based on an Infinite Dilution of Holes” Chem. Phys. Chem. 2005, 6, 2502

Thermoplastic Wood

With over 80% of organic carbon being present in the form of cellulose, lignin and starch it is unsurprising that numerous groups have attempted to use these as feedstock chemicals and materials. Extensive hydrogen bonding between carbohydrate polymer chains, however, makes the plasticisation of starch and the dissolution of cellulose difficult.

Cabinet made from thermoplastic wood

It has been shown that the incorporation of a simple quaternary ammonium salt can lead to a flexible plastic with mechanical properties similar to oil derived plastics. Compression moulding produces a transparent material with mechanical strength which is similar to some polyolefin plastics. It is shown that the material can be extruded and/or compression moulded and these processes improve further the mechanical strength of the samples. Most importantly it is shown that these plastics are recyclable and ultimately compostable.

Medium density fibreboard (MDF) is a ubiquitous product formed from wood flour and a formaldehyde-based resin. The use of the latter component causes some health and environmental concerns and its use is restricted.

It has been shown that thermoplastic starch can be used in place of the thermoset resin to produce materials of similar mechanical strength but with clear environmental benefits. All of the components are compostable and the resin being a thermoplastic allows the potential for remoulding and recycling which has clear environmental impact benefits.


  1. A. P. Abbott, J. Palenzuela Conde, S. Davis and W. R. Wise. “Starch as a Replacement for Urea-Formaldehyde in Medium Density Fibreboard”, Green Chem., 2012, 14, 3067 – 3070.
  2. A. P. Abbott, A. D. Ballantyne, J. Palenzuela Conde, K. S. Ryder and W. R. Wise. “Salt modified starch: sustainable, recyclable plastics” Green Chem., 2012, 14, 1302.

Metal Processing

Printed circuit board produced using a commercial ionic liquid based silver deposition process
We have coined the term Ionometallurgy to describe processing of metals in ionic liquid and published the first review in this area. We have produced the first galvanic series in an ionic liquid and showed that in some ionic liquids metal salts form ideal solutions. This has allowed the first standard redox potentials to be determined together with an absolute pH scale. We have shown that the redox properties of metals could be related to speciation in different ionic liquids.

A viable alternative to Cr(VI) has been developed. It offers high current efficiency using either soluble chrome anodes or DSAs. Hard, black or decorative (bright) chrome coatings are possible. Processes have been developed for the deposition of Cr, Al, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sn, Pb, Pd, and Ag.

Pilot plant for the deposition of chromium using an ionic liquid

Alloys such as Cu/Zn, Zn/Co and Zn/Sn have also been deposited on a wide range of substrates without special pre-treatment. Stable colloidal suspensions can be made and incorporated into metallic coatings to produce hard composites.

We have built 2 processes on commercial scale (>1 tonne) and have 7 further processes at pilot scale (between 50 and 250 kg). The laboratory contains unique demonstrator facilities of a range of metal processing techniques including metal polishing immersion coating and electrodeposition.


  1. A. P. Abbott, G. Frisch and K.S. Ryder, Electroplating using Ionic liquids, Ann. Rev. Mat. Res. 43, 2013, 1.1–1.24
  2. A. P. Abbott, G. Frisch, J. Hartley and K. S. Ryder, "Processing of Metals and Metal Oxides using Ionic Liquids" Green Chem., 2011, 13, 471.
  3. A.P. Abbott, G. Frisch, S.J. Gurman, A.R. Hillman, J. Hartley, F. Holyoak and K.S. Ryder, “Ionometallurgy: Designer Redox Properties for Metal Processing”, Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 10031.


The group is characterising the lubricant properties of ionic liquids together with the first in-depth study of corrosion in these media.


  1. S. D. A. Lawes, S. V. Hainsworth, P. Blake, K. S. Ryder, A. P. Abbott,  Lubrication of Steel/Steel Contacts by Choline Chloride Ionic Liquids. Tribology Letters 2010, 37, 103-110.

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Department of Chemistry
University of Leicester
Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK


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