Leigh Aldous

Leigh Aldous

Leigh Aldous

B.Sc. (Hons) University of Leeds 2004; Ph.D. Queen's University Belfast 2007; Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Queen's University Belfast (2007-2009) and University of Oxford (2009 to 2011); Lecturer at the University of New South Wales (2011-present)

Lecturer and BSc Nanotechnology Coordinator

Contact details

Phone: +61(0) 2 9385 4752
Email: l.aldous@unsw.edu.au


Room 132, Dalton Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Research Group Website


Biographical Details

Born 1982. Graduate of the University of Leeds (B.Sc. 2004) and the Queen’s University Belfast (Ph.D. 2007). Visiting researcher at Merck KGaA (Darmstadt, Germany, 2006). Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratory (QUILL), Queen’s University Belfast (2007 to 2009) and University of Oxford (2009 to 2011). Appointed Lecturer at the University of New South Wales in 2011. Awarded an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship from 2013-2015.

Research Interests


Conversion of Biomass to Feedstock Molecules

Crude oil supplies a huge variety of aromatic chemical feedstock molecules to the modern chemical industry, which are used to make colourants and dyes, pharmaceutical, plastics, etc. With the gradual exhaustion of crude oil, the price and scarcity of these molecules will increase. Alternative sources are therefore required. Lignin, a major constituent of wood, is the most abundant renewable source or aromatic compounds available to us.

Ionic liquids are excellent solvents for biomass, and can dissolve extensive quantities of wood, including lignin and cellulose. Ionic liquids are inherently conductive, and ionic liquids containing dissolved lignin offers a new method for the electrochemical conversion of lignin into a range of useful, smaller aromatic molecules, and research is currently focusing on this. We are also using ionic liquids and other solvents for the 'deconstruction' of tough biomass such as macadamia nut shells and rice husks into their individual components.



Unique physical chemistry of ionic liquids

‘Ionic liquids’ are essentially liquid salts; they are 100% ionic, and therefore behave very differently to other liquids. The do not evaporate like water, and can safely dissolve materials such as wood or extremely reactive compounds. We investigate some of the many unknown or new areas of these solvents. One aspect we are working to understand is how dissolved compounds evaporate from ionic liquids, such that the chemical industry can then control this process. Ionic liquids have also been observed to be good solvents for some hydrogen storage systems; once we understand why we can then make even better systems.



An equation which lets us predict evaporation from ionic liquids for the first time


Electroanalytical chemistry, especially with nanomaterials

Electroanalysis uses electricity and chemistry to give us information. Various electroanalytical processes keep us safe, such as glucose sensors for diabetics, poisonous gas sensors and water quality monitoring. We are looking at a variety of novel systems, especially those that utilise carbon nanomaterials. The very large surface area of nanomaterials is allowing us to prepare even more sensitive sensors to monitor our environment and health.



A garlic sensor, for monitoring during large-scale storage to try to avoid spoilage


Selected Publications

  • C. Fu, L. Aldous, E. J. F. Dickinson, N. S. A. Manan and R. G. Compton, "Volatilisation of ferrocene from ionic liquids: kinetics and mechanism", Chemical Communications, 2011, 47, 7083-7085. (link)
  • L. Aldous and R. G. Compton, "Towards Mixed Fuels: The Electrochemistry of Hydrazine in the Presence of Methanol and Formic Acid", ChemPhysChem, 2011, 12(7), 1280-1287. (link)
  • L. Aldous and R. G Compton, "The mechanism of hydrazine electro-oxidation revealed by platinum microelectrodes: role of residual oxides", Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2011, 13, 5279-5287 (link)
  • B. C. M. Martindale, L. Aldous, N. V. Rees and R. G. Compton, "Towards the electrochemical quantification of the strength of garlic", Analyst, 2011, 136(1), 128-33. (link) (chosen by the journal as a hot article, and reported by the RSC’s 'Chemistry World' magazine and the BBC)
  • Y. Meng, L. Aldous and R. G. Compton, "Hydrogenolysis without hydrogen gas: hydrogen loaded palladium electrodes by electrolysis of H[NTf2] in a room temperature ionic liquid", Green Chemistry, 2010, 12(11), 1926-1928. (link) (chosen by the journal as a hot article)
  • L. Aldous and R. G. Compton, "Clean, efficient electrolysis of formic acid via formation of eutectic, ionic mixtures with ammonium formate", Energy & Environmental Science, 2010, 3, 1587-1592. (link) (chosen by the journal as a hot article)
  • R. Ge, L. Aldous, R. W. K. Allen, M. R. Bown, Nicola Doy, C. Hardacre, J. M. MacInnes, G. McHale and M. I. Newton, "Evaluation of a Microfluidic Device for the Electrochemical Determination of Halide Content in Ionic Liquids", Analytical Chemistry, 2009, 81(4), 1628–1637. (link)
  • E. Rodil, L. Aldous, C. Hardacre and M. C. Lagunas, "Preparation of AgX (X = Cl, I) nanoparticles using ionic liquids" Nanotechnology, 2008, 19(10), 105603. (link)
  • L. Aldous, D. S. Silvester, C. Villagrán, W. R. Pitner, R. G. Compton, M. C. Lagunas and C. Hardacre, "Electrochemical studies of gold and chloride in ionic liquids", New Journal of Chemistry, 2006, 30, 1576-1583. (link) (chosen by the journal as a hot article)

A full list of publications can be found online here and as a PDF here.