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Modern Electrochemistry

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Modern Electrochemistry

In spite of the rather specialist nature of Platinum Metals Review, it seemed to make little sense to me as a reviewer to comb through the books looking for references to platinum group metals. Of course, there are references to Platinum, as a result of the central role that platinum plays in electrochemistry, most notably in electrocatalysis. specialist interests aside, there is so much to read in these three volumes that no review can deal with all the areas covered.

A quick survey of postgraduates and of academic colleagues in Physics revealed in the former case complete ignorance of the use of esu in electrostatics and in the latter case astonishment that anyone would use them in a modern text book. Who knows what a Debye is in One cannot argue that the question of units is unimportant; on the contrary clarity over units is essential to any pedagogic endeavour. How else can students tackle the many numerical problems that have been included

Volume 1 maintains its clear approach to ionic solvation and electrolytes. It has been enhanced by a very extensive chapter on ionic liquids, including room temperature molten salts. The subjects covered in the Volume 1 have received very little attention in recent text books on electrochemistry.

There are several reasons for this neglect. One is the emphasis on electroanalytical chemistry and interfacial chemistry that characterised the development of electrochemistry in North America after the 1960s. This has inevitably moved the subject away from its roots in European physical chemistry. For this reason alone, the appearance of this new volume is to be welcomed, even if a cautious approach to the units is required.

And so to Volume 2B, the third book in this ambitious trilogy. Here the standard is patchy. Chapter 1, which purports to deal with photoelectrochemistry is particularly poor. There are several excellent text books on semiconductor electrochemistry, notably those by Morrison (5) and by Pleskov and Gurevich (6). Even Bard and Faulkner give a reasonable summary (7). By contrast. Chapter 1 is an odd mixture of experimental results and misleading theory. The peculiar expression for the photocurrent efficiency is incorrect, and the treatment of photocurrent voltage characteristics ignores half a decade of research.

After this unpromising start, the third volume improves substantially with good Solid sections on corrosion, fuel cells and batteries. (One feels that the authors are more at home here.) The book concludes with sections on bioelectrochemistry and environmental electrochemistry, both topics that are centre stage in terms of potential applications in the 21st century.

Bockris moved to USA in 1953 to join the University of Pennsylvania as Professor of Chemistry, where he built a large and active research group. It was here that he published his best known work: the first model of the electrode-electrolyte surface to include the dipole moment of the solvent,[2] and his two-volume textbook Modern Electrochemistry.[3] After 18 years in Philadelphia, however, departmental politics became such that Bockris felt the need to move.[1][4] During next appointment, at Flinders University of South Australia from 1971 onwards, his interests broadened to include photoelectrochemistry and environmental chemistry. In 1979 Bockris made his final move to Texas A&M University where he remained until his retirement in 1997. In his later years his research focus veered further toward sources of energy and he embraced positions on some controversial topics that acquired a certain celebrity but damaged his professional reputation.[1]

Looks at modern electrochemical gas sensors: they way they workand the range of gases they can detect. The largest application area is inportable gas detection equipment where the emphasis is on small size and lowpower demands. These sensors are also used for emissions monitoring,specifically from combustion sources. Concludes that portable multigasdetectors will continue to get smaller with a consequent reduction in size ofsensors and that a wider range of gas sensors will be available with advancesin electrochemistry.

When I started working in electrochemistry the textbooks used for University courses dealt predominantly with the properties of electrolyte solutions, with only a brief attempt at discussing the processes occurring at electrodes. Things began to change with the pioneering books of Delahay and of Frumkin which discussed kinetics in a way that a chemical engineer or a physical chemist might appreciate. Very little was said about interfacial structure, despite Butler's remarkable "Electrocapil-larity", which was really premature as it appeared before the research needed to support this view had developed sufficiently. This was done in the subsequent years, to a large extent for mercury electrodes, but only from a macroscopic viewpoint using electrical measurements and predominantly thermodynamic analysis. In the last two decades the possibilities of obtaining atomic scale information and of analysing it have widened to an unprecedented extent. This has been reflected in some of the recent textbooks which have appeared, but none has embraced this modern point of view more wholeheartedly than Professor Schmickler's. Coming originally from a theoretical physics background and having already collaborated in an excellent (pre-molecular) elec-trochemistry textbook, he is well able to expound these developments and integrate them with the earlier studies of electrode kinetics in a way which brings out the key physical chemistry in a lucid way. His own extensive contributions to modern electrochemistry ensures that the exposition is based on a detailed knowledge of the subject. I have found the book a pleasure to read and I hope that it will not only be widely used by electrochemists, but also those physical chemists, biochemists and others who need to be convinced that electrochemistry is not a "mystery best left to the professional". I hope that this book will convince them that it is a major part of physical science. 59ce067264


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