Dr. Bob's Electrochemical Cell Kit Part #990-00193

What are Electrochemical Cells?

An electrochemical cell consists of two half-cells. Each half-cell consists of an electrode in contact with an electrolyte. An electrode is an electronic conductor such as metal or carbon or a semiconductor.  Current flows through the electrodes via the movement of electrons. An electrolyte is a phase in which charge is carried by ions. In Read more about What are Electrochemical Cells?[…]

Electrochemical Quartz Crystal Microbalance - Gamry Instruments's eQcm

Quartz Crystal Microbalance

The Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) is an exciting tool for the electrochemist. With it, the researcher can now follow not only the current that flows, but the weight changes of the electrode, too! This is a valuable tool when studying reactions which involve films, adsorbates, metal deposition, corrosion, or monolayer formation. It is sensitive enough Read more about Quartz Crystal Microbalance[…]

There is a description of potentiostat stability (written by DK Roe) in the Kissinger & Heineman book (

How Fast Can My Potentiostat Scan?

Several times I have been asked a question about whether potentiostat Model XYZZY can scan at xyz V/s. Rarely is the answer in the data sheet for the instrument. Often, however, enough information is given to assess the limits. The path I follow to arrive at an answer is outlined here. An important fact about Read more about How Fast Can My Potentiostat Scan?[…]

There is a description of potentiostat stability (written by DK Roe) in the Kissinger & Heineman book (

Converting Potentials to Another Reference Electrode

Often we find a potential listed in the literature quoted against a different reference electrode than the one we favor, or we would like to convert the potential to a more commonly used reference electrode for publication. A student emailed me: “My experiments involve measuring the redox potential relative to a saturated Ag/AgCl reference electrode. Read more about Converting Potentials to Another Reference Electrode[…]

Gamry Reference Electrodes

Potentials of Common Reference Electrodes

The following tables give the potentials of several commonly used reference electrodes. Various filling solutions are listed where data was available. Note that the nature and concentration of the filling solution can dramatically change the potential! When you look through the scientific literature, be sure the author has specified the filling solution! If you are Read more about Potentials of Common Reference Electrodes[…]

Quartz Crystal Microbalance

The Basics of a Quartz Crystal Microbalance

This tutorial provides an introduction to the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), which is an instrument that allows a user to monitor small mass changes on an electrode. The reader is directed to the numerous reviews1 and book chapters2 for a more in-depth description concerning the theory and application of the QCM. A basic understanding of electrical components and concepts is assumed.

The two major points of this document are:

Explanation of the Piezoelectric Effect
Equivalent Circuit Models

The Piezoelectric Effect

QCM Basics

Figure 1. Graphical Representation of Thickness Shear Deformation.

The application of a mechanical strain to certain types of materials (mostly crystals) results in the generation of an electrical potential across that material. Conversely, the application of a potential to the same material results in a mechanical strain (a deformation). Removal of the potential allows the crystal to restore to its original orientation. The igniters on gas grills are a good example of everyday use of the piezoelectric effect. Depressing the button causes the spring-loaded hammer to strike a quartz crystal thereby producing a large potential that discharges across a gap to a metal wire igniting the gas.

Quartz is by far the most widely utilized material for the development of instruments containing oscillators partly due to historical reasons (the first crystals were harvested naturally) and partly due to its commercial availability (synthetically grown nowadays). There are many ways to cut quartz crystals and each cut has a different vibrational mode upon application of a potential. The AT-cut has gained the most use in QCM applications due to its low temperature coefficient at room temperature. This means that small changes in temperature only result in small changes in frequency. It has a vibrational mode of thickness shear deformation as shown below in Figure 1.


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