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polarography


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An analytical technique having an electrochemical basis. A dropping-mercury electrode is used as the cathode along with a large nonpolarizable anode, and a dilute solution of the sample. The dropping-mercury electrode consists of a narrow tube through which mercury is slowly passed into the solution so as to form small drops at the end of the tube, which fall away. In this way the cathode can have a low surface area and be kept clean. A variable potential is applied to the cell and a plot of current against potential (a polarogram) made. As each chemical species is reduced at the cathode (in order of their electrode potentials) a step-wise increase in current is obtained. The height of each step is proportional to the concentration of the component. The technique is useful for detecting trace amounts of metals and for the investigation of solvated complexes.

Subjects: Chemistry.


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