Self-Supporting, Hydrophobic, Ionic Liquid-Based Reference Electrodes Prepared by Polymerization-Induced Microphase Separation

Sujay A. Chopade, Evan L. Anderson, Peter W. Schmidt, Timothy P. Lodge, Marc A. Hillmyer, Philippe Buhlmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Interfaces of ionic liquids and aqueous solutions exhibit stable electrical potentials over a wide range of aqueous electrolyte concentrations. This makes ionic liquids suitable as bridge materials that separate in electroanalytical measurements the reference electrode from samples with low and/or unknown ionic strengths. However, methods for the preparation of ionic liquid-based reference electrodes have not been explored widely. We have designed a convenient and reliable synthesis of ionic liquid-based reference electrodes by polymerization-induced microphase separation. This technique allows for a facile, single-pot synthesis of ready-to-use reference electrodes that incorporate ion conducting nanochannels filled with either 1-octyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide or 1-dodecyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethyl sulfonyl)imide as ionic liquid, supported by a mechanically robust cross-linked polystyrene phase. This synthesis procedure allows for the straightforward design of various reference electrode geometries. These reference electrodes exhibit a low resistance as well as good reference potential stability and reproducibility when immersed into aqueous solutions varying from deionized, purified water to 100 mM KCl, while requiring no correction for liquid junction potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1504
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 27 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1609459, DMR-1707578, CHE-1710024) and a Lester C. and Joan M. Krogh Excellence Fellowship and an ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry and Eastman Summer Fellowship to E.L.A. SAXS data were obtained at the DuPont-Northwestern-Dow Collaborative Access Team (DND-CAT) located at Sector 5 of the Advanced Photon Source (APS). DND-CAT is supported by Northwestern University, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., and The Dow Chemical Company. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. Portions of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • bicontinuous morphology
  • ionic liquids
  • miniaturized reference electrodes
  • polymerization-induced microphase separation
  • RTILs

MRSEC Support

  • Shared

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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