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Ionic Liquids for Electrochemical Applications

Over the past decade, Ionic Liquids have attracted much interest for their use as non-aqueous electrolytes in electrochemical applications. In this context, their conductivity as well as their electrochemical stability are the most important physical properties. Together with other interesting properties such as their negligible vapor pressure and their non-flammability, they appear to be ideal electrolytes for many interesting applications as already described and discussed in a growing number of publications.1


As mentioned above, one very interesting property is their conductivity. Typical values are in the range from 1.0 mS/cm to 10.0 mS/cm. Recently, interesting materials with conductivities above 20 mS/cm based on the imidazolium-cation were described: 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium thio-cyanate (Prod. # 07424) and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide (Prod. # 00796).


Of course, a solution of a typical inorganic salt such as sodium chloride in water shows a higher conductivity. But if we compare other properties of this solution with an Ionic Liquid, significant disadvantages become obvious: aqueous electrolytes are liquid over a smaller temperature range and the solvent water is volatile!

Electrochemical Stability

Another very important property of Ionic Liquids is their wide electro-chemical window, which is a measure for their electrochemical stability against oxidation and reduction processes:

Electrochemical Stability

Obviously, the electrochemical window is sensitive to impurities: halides are oxidized much easier than molecular anions (e.g., stable fluorine-containing anions such as bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide), where the negative charge is delocalized over larger volume. As a consequence, contamination with halides leads to significantly lower electrochemical stabilities.

Cation Stability.

Cation Stability.

Anion Stability

Anion Stability.

Conductivities and Electrochemical Windows


a) High Conductivity

The materials showing the highest conductivities, 1-ethyl-3-methylimi-dazolium thiocyanate and dicyanamide exhibited the lowest electro-chemical stabilities. Nevertheless, these materials are good candidates for use in any application where a high conductivity combined with thermal stability and non-volatility is necessary, e.g., 1-dodecyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide (Prod. # 18289) in dye-sensitized solar cells.2

b) High Stability

The electrochemically most stable materials having comparable small conductivities (N-butyl-N-methylpyrrolidinium bis(trifluoromethyl-sulfonyl)imide (Prod. # 40963), triethylsulphonium bis(trifluoromethyl-sulfonyl)imide (Prod. # 08748), and N-methyl-N-trioctylammonium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (Prod. # 00797). These materials are good electrolytes for use in batteries,3 fuel cells,4 metal deposition,5 and electrochemical synthesis of nano-particles.6

c) Combined Properties

For applications where conductivity and electrochemical stability are needed (e.g., supercapacitors7 or sensors8), imidazolium-based Ionic Liquids with stable anions (e.g., tetrafluoroborate or trifluoromethylsulfonate) are the materials of choice.

We now offer a set of ionic liquids especially useful for electrochemical applications.



Trulove C, Mantz R. 2003. Ionic Liquids in Synthesis, Chapter 3.6: Electrochemical Properties of Ionic Liquids . Wiley-VCH. Weinheim:
Yamanaka N, Kawano R, Kubo W, Kitamura T, Wada Y, Watanabe M, Yanagida S. 2005. Ionic liquid crystal as a hole transport layer of dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem. Commun..(6):740.
Garcia B, Lavallée S, Perron G, Michot C, Armand M. 2004. Room temperature molten salts as lithium battery electrolyte. Electrochimica Acta. 49(26):4583-4588.
Yanes EG, Gratz SR, Baldwin MJ, Robison SE, Stalcup AM. 2001. Capillary Electrophoretic Application of 1-Alkyl-3-methylimidazolium-Based Ionic Liquids. Anal. Chem.. 73(16):3838-3844.
Zell CA, Freyland W. 2003. In Situ STM and STS Study of Co and Co?Al Alloy Electrodeposition from an Ionic Liquid. Langmuir. 19(18):7445-7450.
Scheeren CW, Machado G, Dupont J, Fichtner PFP, Texeira SR. 2003. Nanoscale Pt(0) Particles Prepared in Imidazolium Room Temperature Ionic Liquids:  Synthesis from an Organometallic Precursor, Characterization, and Catalytic Properties in Hydrogenation Reactions. Inorg. Chem.. 42(15):4738-4742.
He L, Zhang W, Zhao L, Liu X, Jiang S. 2003. Effect of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium-based ionic liquids as the eluent on the separation of ephedrines by liquid chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A. 1007(1-2):39-45.
Zhou Y, Antonietti M. 2003. Synthesis of Very Small TiO2Nanocrystals in a Room-Temperature Ionic Liquid and Their Self-Assembly toward Mesoporous Spherical Aggregates. J. Am. Chem. Soc.. 125(49):14960-14961.
Zhou Y, Antonietti M. 2004. A Series of Highly Ordered, Super-Microporous, Lamellar Silicas Prepared by Nanocasting with Ionic Liquids. Chem. Mater.. 16(3):544-550.
Sato T, Masuda G, Takagi K. 2004. Electrochemical properties of novel ionic liquids for electric double layer capacitor applications. Electrochimica Acta. 49(21):3603-3611.