Wetting ionic liquids

A drop of water can make all the difference to the behavior of ionic liquids, according to scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Ionic liquids are non-volatile alternatives to conventional organic solvents that are being investigated urgently for their putative role in "greening" the chemical industry. The NIST team found that the flow properties of ionic liquids are extremely sensitive to water. For example, they observed a 1% decrease in flow resistance for just a 0.01% increase in water content. The findings will help chemists obtain reproducible results with ionic liquids.