Standard electrode potential, Tafel equation, and the solvation thermodynamics

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22 Scopus citations


Equilibrium in the electronic subsystem across the solution-metal interface is considered to connect the standard electrode potential to the statistics of localized electronic states in solution. We argue that a correct derivation of the Nernst equation for the electrode potential requires a careful separation of the relevant time scales. An equation for the standard metal potential is derived linking it to the thermodynamics of solvation. The Anderson-Newns model for electronic delocalization between the solution and the electrode is combined with a bilinear model of solute-solvent coupling introducing nonlinear solvation into the theory of heterogeneous electron transfer. We therefore are capable of addressing the question of how nonlinear solvation affects electrochemical observables. The transfer coefficient of electrode kinetics is shown to be equal to the derivative of the free energy, or generalized force, required to shift the unoccupied electronic level in the bulk. The transfer coefficient thus directly quantifies the extent of nonlinear solvation of the redox couple. The current model allows the transfer coefficient to deviate from the value of 0.5 of the linear solvation models at zero electrode overpotential. The electrode current curves become asymmetric in respect to the change in the sign of the electrode overpotential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234704
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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