University of Leicester eBulletin

'Magic Potions' at National Exhibition

June 2003

The University of Leicester has beaten off strong competition to be selected to take part in the annual Summer Science Exhibition which is organised by the Royal Society, the UKs prestigious independent academy of science and held at its offices in London.

The exhibition features the latest in cutting edge, science, engineering and technology and Eureka! Magic Potions for a Greener Environment will be one of the 20 exhibits visited by more than 3,000 people over the three days. Dr Andy Abbott of the University of Leicester's Department of Chemistry will be among the leading UK scientists at the exhibition answering any questions the public have about their work.

New ways of producing ionic liquids at the University of Leicester are providing a potentially cleaner way to carry out chemical processes that rely on the use of solvents.

The liquids, which can be made by simply adding two solids together, are non-volatile, remain stable over a wide temperature range, and offer a green alternative to some of the strong acids currently used as industrial solvents.

Ionic liquids can be designed to dissolve a wide range of compounds - sugars, metals, polymers and salts. Altering the relative ratios of the two solids used to make the liquids can vary physical properties, such as how well they conduct electricity. Ionic liquids may be about to change the face of several chemical industrial processes, including electropolishing, electroplating and metal extraction.

Executive Secretary of the Royal Society, Stephen Cox said: "This event grows in popularity each year with thousands attending over the three days. It is the perfect opportunity for members of the public to meet and chat with scientists about their fascinating science on an informal one-to-one basis. The proposal from the University of Leicester beat off stiff competition to become one of this year's exhibits and we look forward to seeing their outstanding work on display at the Royal Society this summer."

The Summer Science Exhibition takes place from July 1-3, 2003, at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG. For more information, visit or


The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit not by field. The Society's aims are to:

strengthen UK science by providing support to excellent individuals

fund excellent research to push back the frontiers of knowledge

attract and retain the best scientists

ensure the UK engages with the best science around the world

support science communication and education; and communicate and encourage dialogue with the public

provide the best independent advice nationally and internationally

promote scholarship and encourage research into the history of science

For further information about the Royal Society contact Tim Watson, Press and Public Relations, The Royal Society, London, telephone 020 7451 2508, email

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Last updated: June 2003
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