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Introduction to Electrochemistry Electrochemistry is the study of reactions in which charged particles (ions or electrons) cross the interface between

two phases of matter, typically a metallic phase (the electrode) and a conductive solution, or electrolyte (All about electrochemistry, (unpublished)

http://www.chem1.com/acad/webtext/elchem/ec1.html#CHEMEL) Electrochemistry is a branch of chemistry dealing with chemical reactions that involve electrical currents and potentials. Some chemical reactions that proceed spontaneously can generate electrical current, which can be used to do useful work; while other chemical reaction can be forced to proceed by using electrical current. While all this may sound rather esoteric, many practical devices based on these reactions, and many products made by these reactions are wellknown, everyday household items. (enc) Electrochemistry at the beginning of the 20th century In the course of the 19th century, electrochemistry was established as a special branch of science and technology. Thanks to the work of Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, the basic theory and practice of electrolysis became understood. Hermann Helmholtz and Walther Nernst developed the concept of electrode potential and electrochemical polarization; on that basis Max Le Blanc began using polarization curves for the study of electrode processes whereby he coined the terms "polarization voltage" and "decomposition voltage". Nernst, inspired by the then successfully spreading spectral analysis, thought of introducing its electrochemical analogy, and with his students and coworkers he tried to gain polarization curves which would provide data for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the electrolyzed species; however, even with a variety of solid electrodes and using various ways of polarization they were unable to achieve satisfactorily reproducible results. By preparing the dropping mercury electrode (Figure 1), C. F. Varley and Gabriel Lippmann gave scientists an intricate problem to study; the Czech physicist Bohumil Kucera was the first one to treat that electrode not as a problem but as a research tool: he used the weight of drops collected from that electrode for measuring surface tension of polarized mercury. Briefly, such

was the situation in electrochemistry when the international clan of scientific workers was joined by Jaroslav Heyrovsky.

Figure 1

D. A. Skoog - D. M. West - F. J. Holler: Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, Saunders College Publishing, Fort Worth, 1992. J. Kenkel: Analytical Chemistry for Technicians, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton (Florida), 1994.