Rob Atkin completed a Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle in 2003 studying the kinetics and mechanism of ionic surfactant adsorption at the solid-aqueous solution interface. This work culminated with the writing of a review article for Advances in Colloid and Interface Science that provides the most comprehensive and detailed explanation of the mechanism of ionic surfactant adsorption at the solid-aqueous solution interface currently available. Rob then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Bristol University (UK) examining the preparation of polymer microcapsules for controlled release applications.
Rob returned to Australia in 2005 as an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Sydney where he studied surfactant self assembly in ionic liquids. He used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to show the presence of self assembled surfactant aggregates at the graphite - ionic liquid interface, the first ever report of adsorbed aggregates in ionic liquid mediums, which led to a publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Rob also used AFM to study the formation of solvation layers of a variety of ionic liquids on several different solid substrates, and has shown that mixtures of ionic liquids, oils and nonionic surfactants can form structured microemulsions. A comprehensive study of microemulsion phase behaviour has been completed, and small angle x-ray scattering and neutron scattering have been used to elucidate the nanostructure of the microemulsion phase. Rob was awarded a University of Newcastle Research Fellowship in December 2006. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in January 2010.
- B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D (University of Newcastle).
Room temperature ionic liquids (ILs), or molten salts, are unusual substances whose physical properties have so far been vastly under-exploited. The aim of my work is to understand the structure and properties of solid-, liquid- and gas- IL interfaces, and to investigate the use of surface-active molecules to modify and control these properties. This is of immediate importance for several important applications including lubrication, catalysis, in various electrochemical processes, as surface coatings, as storage media for gas transport, and in dye sensitised solar cells where the mobility of interfacial ions plays a key role in determining current.