Terms used in connection with electrolysis

Terms used in connection with electrolysis

The work of Nicholson, Carlisle, and Davy created the need for several new technical terms, and this task was undertaken by Michael Faraday. Faraday asked the advice of his friend Dr. Whewell, the classical scholar, and the words they coined are still in use today.

The process by which a substance is decomposed by the passage of an electric urrent is called electrolysis. A substance which conducts current and undergoes decomposition is called an electrolyte. The same word is also commonly used to refer to a solution of an electrolyte in water when, strictly speaking, the term electrolytic solution should be used.

The two wires or plates at which the current enters and leaves the electrolyte are called electrodes. The electrode at which the current enters the electrolyte is called the anode and that by which it leaves, the cathode. The apparatus consisting of vessel, electrolyte, electrodes, and so on in which the electrolysis is carried out is called an electrolytic cell or voltameter. This latter term must not be confused with voltmeter.

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