The central concept of my research is that of designer liquid: a solvent, a reaction or separation medium, an electrolyte, a lubricant, etc. that is tailored in view of specific properties. I follow a materials-science approach: starting from an understanding of the molecular interactions and ordering at a fundamental level, I seek to establish structure-property relations enabling a rational design for applications in sustainable chemical processes and in devices.
In order to be functionalised and fine-tuned, a liquid must have a resilient microscopic structure. Ionic fluids, composed of large, complex organic ions, offer such a platform, since they accept a wide variety of chemical functional groups without compromising their stability and fluidity. However, this diversity and the complexity and subtlety of the interactions pose major challenges. I work on two main topics:
- Alternative solvents and reaction media for a greener and more sustainable chemistry, where a better understanding of physical chemistry of novel, complex liquids is required for the development of cleaner processes. I study ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents to perform separations and to convert renewable biomass feedstocks into value-added intermediates.
- Interactions of liquids with nanomaterials, such as nanoparticles, nanotubes and atomically-thin two-dimensional materials (graphene, MoS2, etc.), with the objective of designing solvents for exfoliation and electrolytes for devices including supercapacitors, liquid-gated transistors and sensors.
In my research I combine quantum calculations, molecular dynamics simulations and molecular thermodynamics to understand the detailed non-covalent interactions, structure and dynamics of fluids, materials and their interfaces at the atomistic level.
I have authored over 130 papers that were cited more than 8000 times in the literature (h-index 45). One of my papers was cited more than 1000 times, four more than 400 times and thirteen more than 100 times.
I work in the Molecular Thermodynamics of Ionic Liquids group, a collaborative team within the Institute of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand, a research unit of the CNRS and the University of Clermont Auvergne.
During the 2014-15 academic year I was a visiting scholar at MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering. My research in collaboration with the Blankschtein group is about exfoliation of two-dimensional nanomaterials.
I am an editor of The Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics.
I founded and headed the CNRS Network (Groupement de Recherches) on Molecular and Process Thermodynamics that brings together 30 research groups in France on this discipline between physical chemistry and chemical engineering.
I can be reached at:
- agilio dot padua at uca dot fr
- apadua at mit dot edu