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Electrolysis can be used for purifying a metal through the electrolytic dissolution of an impure anode and the subsequent re-crystallization of the pure metal on the cathode. The impurities are left behind in solution. Copper is refined commercially by this electrolytic technique.

Electrolysis is often used for electroplating a metal to another material acting as the cathode. The other material must also be electrically conducting. Non-conducting materials, such as leaves, can also be plated by first being painted with a metallic conductive paint. Silver plating can be done with a silver anode and the object to be plated as the cathode.

Electrolytic reduction (cathodic reduction) has developed into a useful technique for the restoration of artifacts such as corroded nails and encrusted silver. In the case of silver, the degradation is usually due to the surface formation of insoluble (black) silver sulfide ( Ag 2 S size 12{"Ag" rSub { size 8{2} } S} {} ). The artifact (a silver coin, for example) is attached to the negative electrode of the electrolysis cell. The Ag + size 12{"Ag" rSup { size 8{+{}} } } {} ions of the silver sulfide pick up electrons and are converted back to metallic silver:

Ag 2 S ( s ) + 2e 2Ag ( s ) + S 2 ( aq ) size 12{"Ag" rSub { size 8{2} } S \( s \) +"2e" rSup { size 8{ - {}} } rightarrow "2Ag" \( s \) +S rSup { size 8{2 - {}} } \( "aq" \) } {}

 The sulfide ions are swept away by the water and the surface of the object is restored.

In this experiment, you will electroplate copper quantitatively to a copper cathode (the anode is also composed of copper). The current is measured over an interval of approximately one hour so that the amount of charge passing through the cell is known. The molar mass of copper is calculated from its equivalent mass using Faraday’s second law. In the second part of the experiment, you will use turn copper into gold!

Background information

In the 1830s, Michael Faraday published his experiments using the recently discovered voltaic column to decompose substances through the use of electric current. Electrolysis is an oxidation-reduction process involving a conversion of electrical energy to chemical energy. The electrolytic cell is a galvanic cell operating in reverse. The automobile battery is acts as a collection of galvanic cells when delivering electric current, but acts as a collection of electrolytic cells when being recharged.

Faraday first described the quantitative relationships between the amount of electric charge (number of electrons) that has passed through an electrolytic cell and the amount of materials that have formed at the electrodes. These are summarized as Faraday’s Laws of Electrolysis: 

  • The mass of substance reacting at an electrode is directly proportional to the total amount of electric charge that has passed through the cell.
  • The masses of the substances reacting at the electrodes are in direct ratio to their equivalent masses. The equivalent mass of a reacting substance is defined as its mass that reacts with one mole of electrons in the oxidation or reduction process. In the case of sodium and chlorine, the equivalent masses of the sodium and chlorine are equal to their molar masses; the equivalent mass of copper is equal to its molar mass divided by two. The second law is a consequence of the stoichiometry of the balanced half-reactions.

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Gen chem lab. OpenStax CNX. Oct 12, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10452/1.51
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