Ionic Liquid-Based, Liquid-Junction-Free Reference Electrode

Dimitrije Cicmil, Salzitsa Anastasova, Andrew Kavanagh, Dermot Diamond, Ulriika Mattinen, Johan Bobacka, Andrzej Lewenstam, Aleksandar Radu

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In this paper, we describe a new type of polymer membrane-based reference electrode (RE) based on ionic liquids (ILs), in both liquid-contact (LCRE) and solid-contact reference electrode (SCRE) forms. The ILs used were bis(-trifluoromethane sulfonyl)amid with 1-alkyl-3-methyl-imidazolium as well as phosphonium and ammonium cations. In addition to their charge stabilisation role, it was found that the ILs also functioned as effective plasticizers in the PVC matrix. The LCREs and SCREs were prepared using the same design as their corresponding indicator electrodes. LCREs were prepared by casting in glass rings while SCREs were prepared on platforms made using screen-printing technology, with poly(3-octylthiophene-2,5 diyl) (POT) as the intermediate polymer. After potentiometric characterization of the response mechanism, the practical performance of the REs was studied using potentiometric titrations (Pb2+ and pH), and characterised using cyclic voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy. All results were compared via parallel experiments in which the novel RE was substituted by a conventional double junction Ag/AgCl reference electrode. The mechanism of response is most likely based on a limited degree of partitioning of IL ions into the sample thereby defining aquo-membrane interfacial potential. Despite their simple nature and construction, the REs showed excellent signal stability, and performed well in the analytical experiments. The identical mode of fabrication to that of the equivalent indicator (or Ion-Selective Electrode, ISE) will facilitate mass-production of both indicator and reference electrode using the same fabrication line, the only difference being the final capping membrane composition.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1881–1890
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Polymer membrane
  • Reference electrode
  • Electrochemical sensors

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