Reference Electrodes

  • Heike KahlertEmail author


In most electrochemical measurements, it is necessary to keep one of the electrodes in an electrochemical cell at a constant potential. This so-called reference electrode allows control of the potential of a working electrode (e.g. in voltammetry) or the measurement of an indicator electrode (e.g. in potentiometry, see Chap. II.9). The standard hydrogen electrode plays the role of a basic reference element in electrochemical devices; however, in practice, it is difficult to handle. Therefore, secondary reference electrodes are preferred in most experiments. A secondary reference electrode must fulfil the following criteria: (i) it should be chemically and electrochemically reversible, i.e. its potential is governed by the Nernst equation and does not change in time; (ii) the potential must remain almost constant when a small current passes through the electrode and reverse to its original value after such small current flow (i.e. a non-polarisable electrode); and (iii) the thermal coefficient of potential should be small.


Reference Electrode Electrolyte Solution Salt Bridge Potassium Chloride Standard Hydrogen Electrode 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Biochemie, Universität GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

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