Electrochemistry is the branch of chemistry that is devoted to the study of the relationship between chemical changes and electricity. The chemical reactions related to this branch of physical chemistry are commonly referred to as electrochemical reactions. These reactions generally involve the movement of electric charges between electrodes and electrolytes.
Electrochemistry is a very important branch of chemistry and has many applications in the day to day lives of human beings. This branch of chemistry deals with the flow of charge through ions, in contrast with other branches of chemistry that involve the study of the properties of covalent bonds and the theories that explain chemical bonding (such as the Molecular Orbital Theory). In order to provide students of chemistry with a brief introduction to the field of electrochemistry, here are the key features of electrochemistry.
Oxidation and Reduction
Oxidation refers to the loss of electrons in an atom or a molecule. Similarly, reduction refers to the gain of electrons by an atom or a molecule. A chemical reaction in which both these phenomena occur is called a redox reaction (abbreviation of oxidation-reduction reactions). These reactions involve the transfer of electrons between two reacting species and results in a change in the oxidation state of the species.
A device capable of converting the energy liberated in a chemical reaction into electrical energy, or vice-versa (supplying reactants with electrical energy in order to cause a chemical reaction) is called an electrochemical cell. Galvanic or Voltaic cells are the electrochemical cells that can convert chemical energy into electric energy. Electrolytic cells have the ability to cause chemical reactions by supplying reactants with electrical energy.
The Nernst equation in the field of electrochemistry provides a relationship between the reduction potential of a given electrochemical reaction, the standard electrode potential, temperature, and effective concentration of the species undergoing the redox reaction.
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