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Pure Appl. Chem., 2011, Vol. 83, No. 12, pp. 2129-2151

Published online 2011-10-07

Gas-phase electrochemistry: Measuring absolute potentials and investigating ion and electron hydration*

William A. Donald1* and Evan R. Williams2

1 School of Chemistry, Bio21 Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology, and ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2 Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Abstract: In solution, half-cell potentials and ion solvation energies (or enthalpies) are measured relative to other values, thus establishing ladders of thermochemical values that are referenced to the potential of the standard hydrogen electrode (SHE) and the proton hydration energy (or enthalpy), respectively, which are both arbitrarily assigned a value of 0. In this focused review article, we describe three routes for obtaining absolute solution-phase half-cell potentials using ion nanocalorimetry, in which the energy resulting from electron capture (EC) by large hydrated ions in the gas phase are obtained from the number of water molecules lost from the reduced precursor cluster, which was developed by the Williams group at the University of California, Berkeley. Recent ion nanocalorimetry methods for investigating ion and electron hydration and for obtaining the absolute hydration enthalpy of the electron are discussed. From these methods, an absolute electrochemical scale and ion solvation scale can be established from experimental measurements without any models.
*Pure Appl. Chem. 83, 2115–2212 (2011). A collection of invited, peer-reviewed articles by the winners of the 2011 IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists.