The structure and properties of the electrical double layer in ionic liquids is of interest in a wide range of areas including energy storage, catalysis, lubrication, and many more. Theories describing the electrical double layer for ionic liquids have been proposed; however, a full molecular level description of the double layer is lacking. To date, studies have been predominantly focused on ion distributions normal to the surface; however, the 3D nature of the electrical double layer in ionic liquids requires a full picture of the double layer structure not only normal to the surface, but also in plane. Here we utilize 3D force mapping to probe the in plane structure of an ionic liquid at a graphite interface and report the direct observation of the structure and properties of topological defects. The observation of ion layering at structural defects such as step-edges, reinforced by molecular dynamics simulations, defines the spatial resolution of the method. Observation of defects allows for the establishment of the universality of ionic liquid behavior vs. separation from the carbon surface and to map internal defect structure. These studies offer a universal pathway for probing the internal structure of topological defects in soft condensed matter on the nanometer level in three dimensions.
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