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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Oct 23;135(42):15890-6. doi: 10.1021/ja407395m. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

The study of multireactional electrochemical interfaces via a tip generation/substrate collection mode of scanning electrochemical microscopy: the hydrogen evolution reaction for Mn in acidic solution.

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Center for Electrochemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin , Austin, Texas 78712, United States.


We report a new method of scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) that can be used to separate multireactional electrochemical interfaces, i.e., electrodes at which two or more reactions occur (and hence two partial currents flow) at the same time. This was done with a modified tip generation/substrate collection mode where the two reactions occur on the tip electrode, and the substrate electrode is held at a potential to collect only one of the products, allowing the determination of the individual partial currents. Thus, by using the substrate electrode current and the difference between the tip and substrate electrode currents, the two reactions occurring on the tip electrode can be separated. As a test case for this new method, we investigated proton reduction on Mn, a reaction that, because of the highly corrosive nature of Mn, to our knowledge has never before been directly measured. This test was carried out using a Mn tip electrode and a Pt substrate electrode. Using a three-dimensional COMSOL Multiphysics simulation, we were able to accurately determine the tip/substrate distance with this electrode, and by fitting simulations to experimental data, we were able to determine an exchange current density, log(j(0)) = -4.7 ± 0.7 A cm(-2), for proton reduction on Mn in strong acid. This result corrects a literature value and was used in a pattern recognition algorithm reported in a companion manuscript.


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