In Chapter 10 we examined several spectroscopic techniques that take advantage of the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and matter. In this chapter we turn our attention to electrochemical techniques in which the potential, current, or charge in an electrochemical cell serves as the analytical signal.
Although there are only three fundamental electrochemical signals, there are many possible experimental designs—too many, in fact, to cover adequately in an introductory textbook. The simplest division of electrochemical techniques is between bulk techniques, in which we measure a property of the solution in the electrochemical cell, and interfacial techniques, in which the potential, current, or charge depends on the species present at the interface between an electrode and the solution in which it sits. The measurement of a solution’s conductivity, which is proportional to the total concentration of dissolved ions, is one example of a bulk electrochemical technique. A determination of pH using a pH electrode is an example of an interfacial electrochemical technique. Only interfacial electrochemical methods receive further consideration in this chapter.
- 11.1: Overview of Electrochemistry
- The focus of this chapter is on analytical techniques that use a measurement of potential, current, or charge to determine an analyte’s concentration or to characterize an analyte’s chemical reactivity. Collectively we call this area of analytical chemistry electrochemistry because its originated from the study of the movement of electrons in an oxidation–reduction reaction.
- 11.2: Potentiometric Methods
- In potentiometry we measure the potential of an electrochemical cell under static conditions. Because no current—or only a negligible current—flows through the electrochemical cell, its composition remains unchanged. For this reason, potentiometry is a useful quantitative method of analysis.
- 11.3: Coulometric Methods
- Coulometry is based on an exhaustive electrolysis of the analyte. By exhaustive we mean that the analyte is oxidized or reduced completely at the working electrode, or that it reacts completely with a reagent generated at the working electrode.
- 11.4: Voltammetric and Amperometric Methods
- In voltammetry we apply a time-dependent potential to an electrochemical cell and measure the resulting current as a function of that potential. We call the resulting plot of current versus applied potential a voltammogram, and it is the electrochemical equivalent of a spectrum in spectroscopy, providing quantitative and qualitative information about the species involved in the oxidation or reduction reaction.
- 11.5: Problems
- End-of-chapter problems to test your understanding of topics in this chapter.
- 11.6: Additional Resources
- A compendium of resources to accompany topics in this chapter.
- 11.7: Chapter Summary and Key Terms
- Summary of chapter's main topics and a list of key terms introduced in this chapter.