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Chemistry LibreTexts

B. The Electrode Process

As you have probably realized, the fundamental basis for most electrochemical techniques is the measurement of current or voltage changes between two electrodes in solution. Given that basis, it follows that analytical electrochemistry is broken down into two major categories: 1) techniques that measure current following a change in potential, and 2) techniques that measure potential under conditions of no current flow.

Techniques of the first type are known as voltammetric methods, while those in the second are referred to as potentiometric methods. We will concern ourselves here with voltammetry, leaving a discussion of potentiometry including measurement of pH for a separate learning module.

Voltammetry is defined as the measurement of current which flows at an electrode as a function of the potential applied to the electrode.3 Current-potential curves are the electrochemical equivalent of absorbance-wavelength curves recorded in spectrophotometric experiments.

Once you gain an understanding of the voltammetric process (hopefully by the time you finish this module), you will recognize that voltammograms have the potential (no pun intended) to yield qualitative, quantitative, thermodynamic, and kinetic information about redox active species.