Potential of green solvents recognised as UK technology that will shape the 21st century

Ionic liquids have been voted the UK innovation most likely to shape the 21st century in a nationwide poll run by science museums and learned societies.

The Great British Innovation Vote called upon members of the public to vote for their favourite past and future UK innovations. The potential green applications of ionic liquids as solvents to dissolve almost any chemical saw them triumph over a shortlist of 11 other innovations, including graphene, gene therapy and the Raspberry Pi computer, which came second.

The vote ran for 10 days during the UK’s National Science and Engineering week in March. It was publicised through social media by celebrities such as Brian Cox and Stephen Fry, and attracted more than 50,000 votes. While ionic liquids won the future innovations category, Turing’s Universal Machine was voted the greatest UK innovation of the past 100 years, beating the Mini and x-ray crystallography into second and third place, respectively.