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Electrochemistry is the study of production of electricity from energy released during spontaneous chemical reactions and the use of electrical energy to bring about non-spontaneous chemical transformations. The subject is of importance both for theoretical and practical considerations. A large number of metals, sodium hydroxide, chlorine, fluorine and many other chemicals are produced by electrochemical methods. Batteries and fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy and are used on a large scale in various instruments and devices. The reactions carried out electrochemically can be energy efficient and less polluting. Therefore, study of electrochemistry is important for creating new technologies that are ecofriendly. The transmission of sensory signals through cells to brain and vice versa and communication between the cells are known to have electrochemical origin. Electrochemistry, is therefore, a very vast and interdisciplinary subject. In this Unit, we will cover only some of its important elementary aspects.
At each electrode-electrolyte interface there is a tendency of metal ions from the solution to deposit on the metal electrode trying to make it positively charged. At the same time, metal atoms of the electrode have a tendency to go into the solution as ions and leave behind the electrons at the electrode trying to make it negatively charged. At equilibrium, there is a separation of charges and depending on the tendencies of the two opposing reactions, the electrode may be positively or negatively charged with respect to the solution. A potential difference develops between the electrode and the electrolyte which is called electrode potential. When the concentrations of all the species involved in a half-cell is unity then the electrode potential is known as standard electrode potential. According to IUPAC convention, standard reduction potentials are now called standard electrode potentials. In a galvanic cell, the half-cell in which oxidation takes place is called anode and it has a negative potential with respect to the solution. The other half-cell in which reduction takes place is called cathode and it has a positive potential with respect to the solution. Thus, there exists a potential difference between the two electrodes and as soon as the switch is in the on position the electrons flow from negative electrode to positive electrode.
The direction of current flow is opposite to that of electron flow. The potential difference between the two electrodes of a galvanic cell is called the cell potential and is measured in volts. The cell potential is the difference between the electrode potentials (reduction potentials) of the cathode and anode. It is called the cell electromotive force (emf) of the cell when no current is drawn through the cell. It is now an accepted convention that we keep the anode on the left and the cathode on the right while representing the galvanic cell. A galvanic cell is generally represented by putting a vertical line between metal and electrolyte solution and putting a double vertical line between the two electrolytes connected by a salt bridge. Under this convention the emf of the cell is positive and is given by the potential of the half-cell on the right hand side minus the potential of the half-cell on the left hand side i.e.
Ecell = Eright – Eleft
This is illustrated by the following example:
Cu(s) + 2Ag+(aq) ⎯→ Cu2+(aq) + 2 Ag(s) (3.4)
Cathode (reduction): 2Ag+(aq) + 2e– → 2Ag(s) (3.5)
Anode (oxidation): Cu(s) → Cu2+(aq) + 2e– (3.6)
It can be seen that the sum of (3.5) and (3.6) leads to overall reaction (3.4) in the cell and that silver electrode acts as a cathode and copper electrode acts as an anode. The cell can be represented as:
and we have Ecell = Eright – Eleft = EAg+⎥Ag – ECu2+⎥Cu
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 12 Chemistry Electrochemistry
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