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Difference Between Cell Potential and EMF for JEE Main 2024

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Last updated date: 16th May 2024
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What Is Cell Potential and Emf: Introduction

To explain cell potential and emf: In the field of electrochemistry, two important terms often come up: cell potential and electromotive force (EMF). Both of these terms are related to the behaviour of electrochemical cells and are used to quantify and understand the underlying processes of chemical reactions involving electricity.


Category:

JEE Main Difference Between

Content-Type:

Text, Images, Videos and PDF

Exam:

JEE Main

Topic Name:

Difference Between Cell Potential and EMF

Academic Session:

2024

Medium:

English Medium

Subject:

Mathematics

Available Material:

Chapter-wise Difference Between Topics


Cell potential, also known as electrode potential or cell voltage, refers to the electric potential difference between two electrodes of an electrochemical cell. It represents the driving force for the flow of electrons in a redox reaction. The cell potential is measured in volts (V) and is denoted by the symbol "Ecell." It is a measurable quantity that depends on the nature of the electrochemical reaction occurring in the cell.


In an electrochemical cell, two half-cells are connected by a conductive pathway, such as a wire or an electrolyte. Each half-cell consists of an electrode immersed in an electrolyte solution. One electrode acts as the anode (where oxidation occurs), and the other electrode acts as the cathode (where reduction occurs). The cell potential is the difference in electric potential between the cathode and the anode. It can be positive, negative, or zero, depending on the direction and magnitude of the electron flow.


The cell potential is determined by the redox reactions taking place at the electrodes. It is influenced by several factors, including the nature of the reactants, their concentrations, temperature, and pressure. The standard cell potential, denoted by "E°cell," is a special case where all reactants and products are in their standard states (1 M concentration, 1 atm pressure, 298 K temperature). The standard cell potential allows for comparisons between different electrochemical systems and is useful in predicting the spontaneity of a reaction.


Electromotive force (EMF) is closely related to cell potential, but it has a slightly different definition and significance. EMF refers to the maximum potential difference or voltage that an electrochemical cell can produce when there is no current flowing through it. It represents the total energy conversion that occurs in the cell and is equivalent to the maximum work done by the cell per unit charge.


What is Distance and Displacement? 

In other words, EMF is the theoretical potential difference between the two electrodes when there is no resistance in the circuit. It accounts for the internal resistance of the cell, which is caused by factors such as the resistance of the electrolyte and the electrodes themselves. EMF is measured in volts (V) and is denoted by the symbol "ε" or "E."


Unlike cell potential, EMF cannot be directly measured. It is a concept used to describe the ideal behaviour of an electrochemical cell in the absence of any losses or inefficiencies. In practice, the actual potential difference measured in a working cell will always be lower than the EMF due to the presence of internal resistance. The relationship between EMF and cell potential is given by the equation: EMF = Ecell - IR, where "I" is the current flowing through the cell, and "R" is the internal resistance.


Defining Cell Potential

The cell potential is determined by the characteristics of the two half-cells involved in the electrochemical reaction. Each half-cell consists of an electrode immersed in an electrolyte solution. The electrode can be a metal or a non-metal, depending on the specific cell setup.


The cell potential is measured using a voltmeter and can be influenced by factors such as the nature of the reactants, their concentrations, temperature, and pressure. It plays a crucial role in determining whether a spontaneous chemical reaction can occur and the direction of electron flow within the cell. The cell potential is fundamental to understanding and predicting the behaviour of various electrochemical cells, such as batteries, fuel cells, and electrolysis cells.


Defining EMF

EMF stands for electromotive force. It is the electrical potential difference or voltage generated by a source, such as a battery or a generator, that drives the flow of electric current in a circuit. Despite the name "force," EMF is not a physical force but rather a measure of the energy conversion per unit charge provided by the source.


EMF is responsible for establishing an electric field within a circuit, which exerts a force on electric charges, causing them to move. It is analogous to a pressure difference in a fluid flow system that drives the fluid movement. The unit of EMF is the volt (V).


EMF is typically associated with devices that convert other forms of energy, such as chemical, mechanical, or electromagnetic energy, into electrical energy. For example, in a battery, chemical reactions within the cell generate an EMF that drives the flow of electrons in a circuit. Similarly, in a generator, mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy, resulting in the generation of an EMF.


It is important to note that EMF is different from potential difference or voltage, even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. EMF refers to the total energy conversion provided by the source, while potential difference specifically refers to the energy per unit charge that causes the movement of electrons in a circuit.


Cell Potential and EMF Difference


Sl.No

Cell Potential

EMF

1.

Cell potential is the potential difference between the two electrodes of an electrochemical cell.


Electromotive force (EMF) is the energy conversion provided by a source that drives the flow of electric

current in a circuit.


2.

It is measured in volts (V).

It is also measured in volts (V).

3.

Cell potential is a specific term used to describe the potential difference in an electrochemical cell.


Electromotive force (EMF) is a more general term that encompasses the potential difference provided by

various sources such as batteries, generators, etc.



Summary

The article provides a comprehensive analysis of the difference between cell potential and electromotive force (EMF) in the field of electrochemistry, and it also highlights the characteristics of cell potential and emf. Cell potential refers to the voltage difference between electrodes in an electrochemical cell, measuring its ability to generate an electric current. On the other hand, EMF is a broader term that includes the energy conversion provided by a power source like a battery or generator. Both are measured in volts, but cell potential applies specifically to electrochemical cells, while EMF applies to a wide range of electrical devices. Differentiating between these terms is important for understanding and analyzing electrochemical systems and other electrical applications.

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FAQs on Difference Between Cell Potential and EMF for JEE Main 2024

1. What is the main difference between cell potential and electromotive force (EMF)?

The main difference lies in their scope and application. Cell potential specifically refers to the voltage difference between the electrodes of an electrochemical cell, while EMF encompasses the energy conversion provided by a source driving electric current in a circuit.

2. How are cell potential and EMF measured?

Both cell potential and EMF are measured in volts (V). They can be determined using a voltmeter connected to the electrodes or by performing appropriate calculations based on experimental data.

3. Are cell potential and EMF interchangeable terms?

While related, cell potential and EMF are not interchangeable. Cell potential is a specific term used in electrochemistry, while EMF is a broader concept applicable to various electrical sources beyond electrochemical cells.

4. What factors influence cell potential and EMF?

The characteristics of the half-cells involved, such as the nature of the reactants, their concentrations, temperature, and pressure, can affect both cell potential and EMF. However, EMF can also be influenced by other factors specific to the source generating the electrical potential.

5. How do cell potential and EMF relate to spontaneous reactions?

A positive cell potential indicates a spontaneous reaction, meaning it can generate an electric current. In the case of EMF, if it is positive, it implies that the energy conversion is occurring and driving the flow of electric current.