Understanding ‘electro–chemo–mechanics’ in oxygen ion conducting membranes represents a foundational step towards new energy devices such as micro fuel cells and oxygen or fuel separation membranes. For ionic transport in macro crystalline electrolytes, doping is conventionally used to affect oxygen ionic association/migration energies. Recently, tuning ionic transport in films through lattice strain conveyed by substrates or heterostructures has generated much interest. However, reliable manipulation of strain states to twist the ionic conduction in real micro energy devices remains intractable. Here, we demonstrate that the oxygen ionic conductivity clearly correlates with the compressive strain energy acting on the near order of the electrolyte lattices by comparing thin-film ceria-based membrane devices against substrate-supported flat structures. It is possible to capitalize on this phenomenon with a smart choice of strain patterns achieved through microelectrode design. We highlight the importance of electro–chemo–mechanics in the electrolyte material for the next generation of solid-state energy conversion microdevices.