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Reduction Potential

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What is Reduction Potential?

The electrode potential is called oxidation potential, and the reduction potential is termed as oxidation potential if the oxidation occurs at the electrode. Reduction involves a gain of electrons, and so, the electrode tendency to gain electrons is referred to as its reduction potential.


The potential equilibrium difference of the metal electrode and the solution surrounding it is known as the electrode potential. It is also described as the electrode tendency either to lose or gain electrons.


Reduction Potential Explanation

When a metal piece is immersed in a solution of its own ions, a potential difference is formed at the metal interface and the solution. The potential difference magnitude is a measure of the electrode tendency to undergo either reduction or oxidation or the tendency to either lose or gain the electrons.


The ion and metal represent half cell, and the reaction is the half-reaction. The immersed metal is called an electrode, and the potential occurred because of the reaction at the electrode interface. The solution is known as the electrode potential. Thereby, the electrode potential is described as the tendency of an electrode either to lose or gain electrons. If the reduction occurs at the electrode, it is defined as the reduction potential.

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If the oxidation occurs at the electrode, it is referred to as the oxidation potential.

M → M²⁺ + 2e⁻

As metal ions start depositing on the metal surface and this develops a positive charge on the particular metal rod. Since oxidation is simply a reverse of reduction and thus the reduction potential is obtained from the oxidation potential just by changing the sign.

Generally, for an electrode:

Oxidation potential = – Reduction potential

As an example, in a zinc electrode, the standard oxidation potential can be represented as follows:

E\[^{0}\] (\[\frac{Zn}{Zn^{2+}}\]) = 0.76v 

and the standard reduction potential can be given as follows:

E\[^{0}\] (\[\frac{Zn^{2+}}{Zn}\]) = - 0.76v 

It is quite common practice to show all the electrode potentials as the reduction potentials.


Very recently, the reduction potential has been adopted by the department of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for the electrode potential designation.


When the half-cell reaction is carried out with a temperature of 298K, and the electrode is suspended in one single molar solution concentration, the electrode potential can be defined as the standard electrode potential, and it can be represented by E\[^{0}\]. Moreover, the Standard electrode potential E\[^{0}\] enables one to assess the activity of thermodynamics of different chemical substances. However, there are no other methods available where we can measure its absolute value. The electrode potential of an electrode can be measured with respect to the standard hydrogen electrode.


The electrode potential of an electrode completely depends upon the concentration of ions in a solution in contact with the metal. In simple words, the oxidation potential of an electrode is inversely proportional to the ion concentration, whereas the reduction potential is directly proportional to the ion concentration.


Half Cells

As a cell, a battery has two half-cells separated with an electrolyte. The electrodes are required to connect the half cells to the external circuit. Every electrode can act as part of a redox couple, but none of these has to be.


The standard conditions for the hydrogen half-cell are the concentration of hydrogen [H⁺(AQ)], the pressure of hydrogen gas is given as 105Pa with a temperature of 298K.


The standard hydrogen half-cell can be used as a reference half-cell, whereas all the other half-cells are measured against it. An electrode potential list has been generated relative to the half-cell of standard hydrogen. The half-reaction in this half cell is given as follows:


2H⁺(aq) + 2e⁻ ⇌ H₂(g)


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Electrodes potentials differ with the temperature, and thus, a standard temperature can be defined. This is given as 298K. By altering any ion concentration appearing in the half-reactions also affects the voltages, and thus, a standard concentration of 1.00 mol dm-3 can be chosen. Standard pressure is given as 105Pa.


The potential of a standard hydrogen half-cell can be described as 0.0V, which is a value chosen for convenience.


The half-cell’s standard electrode potential E\[^{0}\] can be defined as the potential difference between the half-cell and the standard hydrogen half-cell.


E\[^{0}\] values contain a sign based on whether the half-cell is at either a higher or lower positive potential compared to the standard hydrogen half-cell. The measurements are created at 298K with a metal dipping into a 1.00 mol dm-3 solution of the metal’s salt.


Effects of Reduction Potential

Generally, very late transition metal ions at the right end of the transition metal chain, including silver, copper, gold, contain a high potential for reduction. If the normal reduction potential of the lithium is more negative, then the oxidation potential of the lithium-ion is very positive.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Explain if Reduction Potential is Either Positive or Negative?

Answer: A solution having a greater (otherwise, more positive) reduction potential compared to the new species will tend to receive the electrons from the new species. It means to be reduced by oxidizing new species and a solution having a lower (otherwise, more negative) reduction potential will tend to lose the electrons to the new species.

Q2. List the Difference Between Reduction Potential and Oxidation Potential?

Answer: The primary distinction between the potential for reduction and oxidation is given as the potential for oxidation exhibits a propensity of chemical elements to be oxidized. In a converse manner, the reduction potential suggests the likelihood of a chemical element to reduce.

Q3. Which Element Holds the Highest Reduction Potential?

Answer: Fluorine contains the highest potential for a decrease. And, the high oxidizing agents prefer to oxidize the other elements, and they will be self reduced. Hence, relative to iodine, bromine, and chlorine, fluorine contains the greatest potential for reduction. Whereas, high potential for the reduction occurs because of the low bond enthalpy and high Fluorine electronegativity.

Q4. Explain How to Calculate Reduction Potential.

Answer: The standard reduction potential is determined by subtracting the standard reduction potential of the anode-induced reaction from the cathode-induced reaction’s standard reduction potential. The minus sign is essential because of the reverse of the reduction in oxidation.