What is electrochemistry?


The electrochemical investigates the creation of electricity through chemical reactions. There are many devices that deserve to use electricity, without having direct access to an electrical network. What demands, as a solution, the use of batteries. These are containers filled with chemicals that produce electrons by an electrochemical reaction.

What is electrochemistry?

The electrochemistry is a scientific and technical discipline of physical chemistry . Analyze the changes in the interface or interphase created by a conductor and an electrolyte. It is related to variations in the exchange of electrons and the production of current by chemical reactions. It is electrolysis, if it is caused by an external potential difference, and battery, if it is by a chemical action.

  • Definition
  • Electrochemical characteristics
  • What do you study?
  • Source
  • History
  • Key concepts
  • Principles of Electrochemistry
  • Cells
  • Applications
  • Importance
  • Books on Electrochemistry
  • Examples


Electrochemistry is the correlation between electrical currents and chemical reactions . Likewise, it is the cause of the transformation of chemical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. In a broader way, it deals with chemical reactions that cause electrical effects and chemical phenomena promoted by the work of currents or voltages.

Electrochemical characteristics

It has the following peculiarities:

  • They react in heterogeneous media : They occur in a solid dissolution conductive phase . The solution may or may not be of aqueous origin.
  • They are out of balance : They are dependent on time. The groupings of the intervening varieties vary with this one in the surroundings of the interstage.
  • One-way : Electron exchange moves from one species to another. It uses conductors flowing from the anode, in which one species grants electrons, oxidizing, to the cathode where the other species collects them, reducing themselves.

What do you study?

Study the modification between electrical energy and chemical energy . That is, the chemical actions that occur in the interphase of an electrical conductor and an ionic conductor. The electrical conductor is an electrode, namely a metal or a semiconductor. The ionic conductor is an electrolyte, which can be a solution and in specific cases, a hard object.

Likewise, it investigates situations where localized oxide reduction reactions occur , in an environment connected to an electrical installation. In these reactions the energy released from a natural reaction is changed to electricity. Or it can be used to provoke a non-spontaneous chemical reaction.


Electrochemistry was born in 1791 , in Italy; when the fusion between biochemistry and electricity occurs . In 1780, Luigi Galvani, anatomical, experimented on the consequence of meteorological electric discharges. On one occasion, he attached the dorsal cord of a carcass-cut frog to an iron frame with metal fasteners.

With surprise he observed that the animal’s haunches shook with electric shocks and, by the action of iron and brass. Due to this event, he elaborates the concepts of animal electricity, which are later shown to be wrong, and that of galvanism. The latter refers to the creation of electric current by contact of two different metals, in a humid environment.

The institutionalization of electrochemistry as a science corresponds to researchers such as Faraday, Daniell and Hittorf. Others followed, such as Arrhenius, Nernst, and Van’t Hoff. Those who interpreted research and systematized impressions leading to the development of the basic theories of electrochemistry.


The referents of the knowledge of the electricity of Charles A. de Coulomb, electrostatic attraction, 1781. And the investigations of Davy, Cavendish and Humphry in the United Kingdom, started the path towards the beginning of electrochemistry.

The contribution of A. Volta, the first battery, was propitious so that, in the industrial revolution, scientists like William Nicholson and Johann W. Ritter, instituted the method of electroplating. Later they would converge in the invention of thermoelectricity by Thomas Johann Seebeck.

In the 19th century, M. Faraday, with his laws of electrolysis, and John Daniell, creator of the battery with only metal ions, clarified the picture further. At the end of the century, this doctrine influenced fields such as the electrolyte conductivity theory of Svante A. Arrhenius and Friedrich Ostwald. In the same way as in Walther Hermann Nernst’s mathematical model of batteries.

In the 20th century, electrochemistry allowed the discovery of the charge of the electron by Millikan and to establish the modern theory of acids and bases of Brønsted and Lowry. Likewise, treaties of significant disciplines such as medicinal and biological with electrophoresis.

This has made electrochemistry link with numerous topics such as Revaz Dogonadze or Rudolph A. Marcus quantum, including photo voltaic cells and chemo-luminescence.

Key concepts

  • Cathode: Electrode in which the reduction occurs, the species gain electrons. It has a negative charge and the ions or positive charges migrate to it.
  • Anode: Electrode where oxidation is caused, the species lose electrons. It has a positive charge and negative ions or charges migrate to it.
  • Electric current: Flow of charges resulting from the movement of electric charges, caused by a potential difference.
  • Electric conductor: It is an entity that, due to its organization, allows electrons to move through it with great skill. Example metals.
  • Electrode: It is an element that conducts electricity, closes a circuit and a potential difference is created at its ends.
  • Battery: Or galvanic element is a system where the chemical energy of a reaction is converted into electrical energy.
  • Battery: Device that produces electrical energy made up of several batteries.

Principles of Electrochemistry

  • The dissolved electrolyte partially disintegrate into electrically charged ions. The sum total of charge on the positive ions is equal to the total charge of the negative ions. The solution is neutral, the principle of electro neutrality.
  • The genera are charged atoms, which remain identically in similar chemicals or groups of swollen atoms, radicals of electrolytes. They remain the same in similar chemicals.
  • The ions come freely from each other and from undisaggregated molecules. They form different fractions with peculiar physical and chemical properties.
  • The breakdown of an electrolyte is reversible . The ions produced bind, in turn, to form the molecules of the corresponding mixture again.
  • The stability between the undissociated molecules and the ions is transferred when dissolving the solution, increasing the ratio of the ions that will be further apart. This makes it more difficult for them to join together to form the molecules again.


Most of the reactant systems are contained in an electrochemical cell. Which are classified into three:

  • Electrolytic cells: When the electrical energy originating from an external source conceives that a non-spontaneous chemical reaction occurs.
  • Galvanic or voltaic cells: The energy that is emitted in a spontaneous redox reaction can be used to carry out electrical work.
  • Fuel cells : They are devices that convert the energy of a continuous electrochemical oxidation reaction into electrical energy. They are not spontaneous, they only occur when they are sustained by fuel and an oxidant.


Today there is a lot of industrial technology that uses electrochemistry . Example is the hydrolysis of water to produce hydrogen. Hydrolysis of sodium chloride to make chloro-soda. The electrolysis of acryl nitrile for the manufacture of adipo nitrile.

It is used in the device of breathalyzers, where a metal is oxidized by electrodeposition, detecting the level of alcohol in drunk drivers. They are used in the obtaining and purification of various metals, such as aluminum and titanium. Also in electroplating based on electrolysis processes to coat one metal with another.


The chemical reaction that produces an exchange of electrons between elements is called a redox reaction . Vital in electrochemistry, because through this type of reaction, processes that create electricity occur or vice versa, they occur as a result of it.

Electrochemistry includes any action that causes a difference in electrical potential or electrical energy. If this did not happen, life as such would not exist, neural function and other organic situations depend on this kind of reaction.

Similarly, many processes in nature are electrochemical. The photosynthesis is one of them. Here, solar energy is converted into usable chemical energy in the development and occupation of vegetation.

Books on Electrochemistry

Here are the names of some books on the subject:

  • Fundamentals of theoretical electrochemistry. Authors: BB Damaskin and OA Petri.
  • Physical and inter facial electrochemistry. A theoretical approach. Author: Marco Suárez.
  • Modern electro chemistry. Volume 1 and 2. Authors: JOM Bockris and AKN Reddy.
  • Modern electrochemistry topics. Author: Jaime González Velasco.


A common model of electrochemical cell is the battery , the standard 1.5 volt or the rechargeable 1.2 volt. They are simple galvanic cells for consumer use . An electric battery consists of several cells connected in series or parallel.

Currently, the exploration in the functioning and perfection of batteries is experiencing a resurgence caused by the demand for products such as cell phones, laptops, handheld electronic games and portable medical equipment.

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