Fields of Research (FoR)Physical Chemistry of Materials, Transport Properties and Non-equilibrium Processes, Solution Chemistry, Soft Condensed Matter
Ken Harris is a graduate of the University of Adelaide, where he obtained his PhD in the Department of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry under the supervision of Peter Dunlop in 1970. Subsequently he has held research positions at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, in the then Diffusion Research Unit in the Research School of Physical Sciences at ANU and at the then Van der Waals Laboratory, University of Amsterdam. He has also held...view more
Ken Harris is a graduate of the University of Adelaide, where he obtained his PhD in the Department of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry under the supervision of Peter Dunlop in 1970. Subsequently he has held research positions at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, in the then Diffusion Research Unit in the Research School of Physical Sciences at ANU and at the then Van der Waals Laboratory, University of Amsterdam. He has also held lectureships at the former Chelsea College in the University of London, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the former Phillip Institute of Technology, Melbourne, (now merged with RMIT), where he was appointed as Senior Lecturer in 1986.Ken Harris joined University College (UNSW Canberra) in 1987 as a Lecturer, and regained his Senior Lectureship in 1988. He became an Associate Professor in 1998 and was Head of the former School of Chemistry from 2001 until its merger with three other Schools in mid 2003 to form the School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, now the School of Science. A physical chemist, his major research interest is the measurement of thermodynamic and transport properties of fluids and fluid solutions, and in relating these to statistical mechanical theory. In collaboration with Professor H.J.V. Tyrrell, he has published a monograph, Diffusion in Liquids. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a member of the European Molecular Liquids Group, and a member of the International Association of Transport Properties. He retired at the end of July 2004, but continues research as an Honorary Associate Professor. Experimental work at UNSW Canberra was discontinued in mid 2021.
Ionic liquids: Since 2004 I have collaborated with Dr Mitsuhiro Kanakubo of the National Institute of Industrial and Scientific Technology (AIST), Sendai, Japan, measuring ionic self-diffusion coefficients and viscosities at high pressure. Dr Kanakubo is able to synthesize very pure samples of these materials and can measure electrical conductivities and densities under high pressure, which complement my measurements. We work on these new materials as they are being developed as replacements for flammable and sometimes toxic organic solvents in many industrial processes, and for new applications in science and technology. Dr Kanakubo’s group is particularly interested in using ionic liquids as acid gas absorbers that can be readily recycled in ways that aqueous amine solutions, used in current flue-gas extraction technology, cannot. Accurate transport property measurements, particularly of the viscosity and thermal conductivity, and thermodynamic properties, such as the heat capacity, are necessary for the minimisation of both capital and running costs of industrial plant. We do precise measurements to contribute to: i) the international database for these new materials (with AIST-Tohoku, Japan and CSIRO Maufacturing, Melbourne), ii) the development of an understanding of the relationships between these physical properties, iii) the testing of global theories of liquids, particularly glass-forming and “fragile” liquids.
Molecular liquids: Since 2000, I have collaborated with fellow members of the International Association for Transport Properties in studies intended to assist in the development of international standards for high-pressure viscometry. Substances investigated to date are toluene and cyclopentane, as low viscosity materials, for use at ambient and low temperatures, and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), squalane and Krytox GP102, as moderate viscosity materials for use at high pressures and high temperatures, particularly under deep well oil production conditions.Consequently members of IATP are investigating the suitability of a number of fluid materials as secondary moderate and high viscosity calibrants.
Water and Aqueous Solutions: Though water is a commonplace substance, it is one with properties that are quite anomalous when compared with those of other liquids. I have contributed to the international database for self-diffusion and viscosity at high pressures and, published a number of papers on the unusual behaviour of water and solutions of hydrophobic solutes.