In potentially good news for the noses of gymnasium employees and commuters crammed into packed train carriages on hot summer days, scientists at Queen's University, Belfast claim to have developed the world's first perfume delivery system that releases more aroma the more a person sweats.

The system, developed by researchers in the Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre, involves placing a raw fragrance onto an odorless ionic liquid. When the resulting "perfumed ionic liquid" comes into contact with water, it releases its aroma by discharging more of the perfume's scent onto the wearer.

But the perfume system doesn't just mask a person's sweaty bouquet, but can help neutralize it. The "thiol" compounds within sweat that are responsible for the nasty odor are attracted to and attach themselves to the ionic liquid, which reduces their potency.

"This is an exciting breakthrough that uses newly discovered ionic liquid systems to release material in a controlled manner," says project leader, Dr Nimal Gunaratne. "Not only does it have great commercial potential, and could be used in perfumes and cosmetic creams, but it could also be used in others area of science, such as the slow release of certain substances of interest."

But it's the commercial potential of the system in the personal care market that QUILL researchers will initially focus on. They are already working on various product ideas with a perfume development company that they hope could eventually make it to store shelves.

The system is described in a paper published in Chemical Communications.

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