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Effect of tetraalkylammonium cations on gas coalescence at a hydrogen-evolving microelectrode.

Authors
  • Monzon, Lorena M A
  • Gillen, Alice J
  • Mobius, Matthias E
  • Coey, J M D
Type
Published Article
Journal
Langmuir
Publisher
American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Jun 02, 2015
Volume
31
Issue
21
Pages
5738–5747
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b01003
PMID: 25970227
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Hydrogen gas evolution at the surface of a microelectrode may result in periodic release of single bubbles larger than the electrode diameter. Bubbles often grow by incorporating smaller bubbles that coalesce with them. To explore the coalescence, we investigate how a series of six tetralkylammonium cations (TXA(+)), where the number of carbons on the alkyl chain varies from 1 to 6, affects the oscillatory behavior of the gas-evolving microcathode. Different concentrations of TXA(+) bromide salts ranging from a few micromolar up to 1 M were added in the acid electrolyte. The frequency of bubble release and the transition from periodic to aperiodic release are related to the inhibition of bubble coalescence and gas streaming. The concentration range where this transition occurs depends strongly on the cation hydrophobicity and it ranges from very small values for the hydrophobic cations to over 1 M for the most hydrophilic one. For some of the TXA(+) cations, the transition shows a smooth increase in release frequency before switching completely to bubble-stream behavior, while for others the transition is abrupt. A smooth increase in the gas oscillator frequency with concentration indicates that the adsorption of TXA(+) cations on the bubble surface is mass transport-limited. The inhibition of bubble coalescence by the smallest cations is electrochemically driven, facilitated by specific interactions established between the ions and the electrode surface.

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