The recent boom of energy storage and conversion devices, exploiting ionic liquids (ILs) to enhance the performance, requires an in-depth understanding of this new class of electrolytes in device operation conditions. One central question critical to device performance is how the mobile ions accumulate near charged electrodes. Here, we present the excess ion depth profiles of ILs in ionomer membrane actuators (Aquivion/1-butyl-2,3-dimethylimidazolium chloride (BMMI-Cl), 27 μm thick), characterized directly by Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) at liquid nitrogen temperature. Experimental results reveal that for the IL studied, cations and anions are accumulated at both electrodes. The large difference in the total volume occupied by the excess ions between the two electrodes cause the observed large bending actuation of the actuator. Hence we demonstrate that ToF-SIMS experiment provides great insights on the physics nature of ionic devices.
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