The emerging field of ionic liquids is the research specialty of Sanjay Malhotra, assistant professor of chemistry and environmental science. These solvents -- salts that are liquid at room temperature -- can be tailored to dissolve a variety of substances, including coal, crude oil, inks, plastics, DNA, and even some rocks. Environmentally safe, ionic liquids have a wide range of applications in biotechnology, medical science, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Malhotra's group collaborates with scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, partnering with UMDNJ on an NIH-supported project to study the mechanism of ion transport in cell membranes. Malhotra's team synthesized the first ionic liquid derived from a natural extract of the pine tree, and was first to demonstrate the application of chiral ionic liquids in producing an optically active molecule. Read an article in Medical News Today about his research. He presented his findings the 2004 American Chemical Society Annual Meeting.