An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit (e.g. a semiconductor, an electrolyte, a vacuum or air). The word was coined by William Whewell at the request of the scientist Michael Faraday from two Greek words: elektron, meaning amber (from which the word electricity is derived), and hodos, a way.[1][2]

The electrophore, invented by Johan Wilcke, was an early version of an electrode used to study static electricity.[3]

Arc welding electrodes and electrode holder.triddle
Electrodes used in arc welding

Anode and cathode in electrochemical cells

Конфигурација на електрода
Configuration of the electrode

An electrode in an electrochemical cell is referred to as either an anode or a cathode (words that were coined by William Whewell at Faraday's request).[1] The anode is now defined as the electrode at which electrons leave the cell and oxidation occurs (indicated by a minus symbol, "−"), and the cathode as the electrode at which electrons enter the cell and reduction occurs (indicated by a plus symbol, "+"). Each electrode may become either the anode or the cathode depending on the direction of current through the cell. A bipolar electrode is an electrode that functions as the anode of one cell and the cathode of another cell.

Primary cell

A primary cell is a special type of electrochemical cell in which the reaction cannot be reversed,[4] and the identities of the anode and cathode are therefore fixed. The anode is always the negative electrode. The cell can be discharged but not recharged.

Secondary cell

A secondary cell, for example a rechargeable battery, is a cell in which the chemical reactions are reversible. When the cell is being charged, the anode becomes the positive (+) and the cathode the negative (−) electrode. This is also the case in an electrolytic cell. When the cell is being discharged, it behaves like a primary cell, with the anode as the negative and the cathode as the positive electrode.

Other anodes and cathodes

In a vacuum tube or a semiconductor having polarity (diodes, electrolytic capacitors) the anode is the positive (+) electrode and the cathode the negative (−). The electrons enter the device through the cathode and exit the device through the anode. Many devices have other electrodes to control operation, e.g., base, gate, control grid.

In a three-electrode cell, a counter electrode, also called an auxiliary electrode, is used only to make a connection to the electrolyte so that a current can be applied to the working electrode. The counter electrode is usually made of an inert material, such as a noble metal or graphite, to keep it from dissolving.

Welding electrodes

In arc welding, an electrode is used to conduct current through a workpiece to fuse two pieces together. Depending upon the process, the electrode is either consumable, in the case of gas metal arc welding or shielded metal arc welding, or non-consumable, such as in gas tungsten arc welding. For a direct current system, the weld rod or stick may be a cathode for a filling type weld or an anode for other welding processes. For an alternating current arc welder, the welding electrode would not be considered an anode or cathode.

Alternating current electrodes

For electrical systems which use alternating current, the electrodes are the connections from the circuitry to the object to be acted upon by the electric current but are not designated anode or cathode because the direction of flow of the electrons changes periodically, usually many times per second.


Electrodes are used to provide current through nonmetal objects to alter them in numerous ways and to measure conductivity for numerous purposes. Examples include:

Chemically modified electrodes

Chemically modified electrodes are electrodes that have their surfaces chemically modified to change the electrode's physical, chemical, electrochemical, optical, electrical, and transportive properties. These electrodes are used for advanced purposes in research and investigation.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b Weinberg, Steven (2003). The Discovery of Subatomic Particles Revised Edition. Cambridge University Press. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-0-521-82351-7. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  2. ^ Faraday, Michael (1834). "On Electrical Decomposition". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-01-17. In this article Faraday coins the words electrode, anode, cathode, anion, cation, electrolyte, and electrolyze.
  3. ^ Whitaker, Harry (2007). Brain, mind and medicine : essays in eighteenth-century neuroscience. New York, NY: Springer. p. 140. ISBN 0387709673.
  4. ^ Sivasankar (2008). Engineering Chemistry. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 9780070669321. Archived from the original on 2017-12-21.
  5. ^ Durst, R., Baumner, A., Murray, R., Buck, R., & Andrieux, C., "Chemically modified electrodes: Recommended terminology and definitions (PDF) Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine", IUPAC, 1997, pp 1317–1323.

An anode is an electrode through which the conventional current enters into a polarized electrical device. This contrasts with a cathode, an electrode through which conventional current leaves an electrical device. A common mnemonic is ACID for "anode current into device". The direction of conventional current (the flow of positive charges) in a circuit is opposite to the direction of electron flow, so (negatively charged) electrons flow out the anode into the outside circuit. In a galvanic cell, the anode is the electrode at which the oxidation reaction occurs.

An anode is also the wire or plate having excess positive charge. Consequently, anions will tend to move towards the anode.

Arc welding

Arc welding is a welding process that is used to join metal to metal by using electricity to create enough heat to melt metal, and the melted metals when cool result in a binding of the metals. It is a type of welding that uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between a metal stick ("electrode") and the base material to melt the metals at the point-of-contact. Arc welders can use either direct (DC) or alternating (AC) current, and consumable or non-consumable electrodes.

The welding area is usually protected by some type of shielding gas, vapor, or slag. Arc welding processes may be manual, semi-automatic, or fully automated. First developed in the late part of the 19th century, arc welding became commercially important in shipbuilding during the Second World War. Today it remains an important process for the fabrication of steel structures and vehicles.


A cathode is the electrode from which a conventional current leaves a polarized electrical device. This definition can be recalled by using the mnemonic CCD for Cathode Current Departs. A conventional current describes the direction in which positive charges move. Electrons have a negative electrical charge, so the movement of electrons is opposite to that of the conventional current flow. Consequently, the mnemonic cathode current departs also means that electrons flow into the device's cathode from the external circuit.

The electrode through which conventional current flows the other way, into the device, is termed an anode.


Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed over the skin. These electrodes detect the tiny electrical changes on the skin that arise from the heart muscle's electrophysiologic pattern of depolarizing and repolarizing during each heartbeat. It is very commonly performed to detect any cardiac problems.

In a conventional 12-lead ECG, ten electrodes are placed on the patient's limbs and on the surface of the chest. The overall magnitude of the heart's electrical potential is then measured from twelve different angles ("leads") and is recorded over a period of time (usually ten seconds). In this way, the overall magnitude and direction of the heart's electrical depolarization is captured at each moment throughout the cardiac cycle. The graph of voltage versus time produced by this noninvasive medical procedure is an electrocardiogram.

There are three main components to an ECG: the P wave, which represents the depolarization of the atria; the QRS complex, which represents the depolarization of the ventricles; and the T wave, which represents the repolarization of the ventricles. It can also be further broken down into the following:

O is the origin or datum point preceding the cycle

P is the atrial systole contraction pulse

Q is a downward deflection immediately preceding the ventricular contraction

R is the peak of the ventricular contraction

S is the downward deflection immediately after the ventricular contraction

T is the recovery of the ventricles

U is the successor of the T wave but it is small and not always observedDuring each heartbeat, a healthy heart has an orderly progression of depolarization that starts with pacemaker cells in the sinoatrial node, spreads throughout the atrium, passes through the atrioventricular node down into the bundle of His and into the Purkinje fibers, spreading down and to the left throughout the ventricles. This orderly pattern of depolarization gives rise to the characteristic ECG tracing. To the trained clinician, an ECG conveys a large amount of information about the structure of the heart and the function of its electrical conduction system. Among other things, an ECG can be used to measure the rate and rhythm of heartbeats, the size and position of the heart chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart's muscle cells or conduction system, the effects of heart drugs, and the function of implanted pacemakers.


Electrochemistry is the branch of physical chemistry that studies the relationship between electricity, as a measurable and quantitative phenomenon, and identifiable chemical change, with either electricity considered an outcome of a particular chemical change or vice versa. These reactions involve electric charges moving between electrodes and an electrolyte (or ionic species in a solution). Thus electrochemistry deals with the interaction between electrical energy and chemical change.

When a chemical reaction is caused by an externally supplied current, as in electrolysis, or if an electric current is produced by a spontaneous chemical reaction as in a battery, it is called an electrochemical reaction. Chemical reactions where electrons are transferred directly between molecules and/or atoms are called oxidation-reduction or (redox) reactions. In general, electrochemistry describes the overall reactions when individual redox reactions are separate but connected by an external electric circuit and an intervening electrolyte.


Electrophysiology (from Greek ἥλεκτρον, ēlektron, "amber" [see the etymology of "electron"]; φύσις, physis, "nature, origin"; and -λογία, -logia) is the study of the electrical properties of biological cells and tissues. It involves measurements of voltage changes or electric current or manipulations on a wide variety of scales from single ion channel proteins to whole organs like the heart. In neuroscience, it includes measurements of the electrical activity of neurons, and, in particular, action potential activity. Recordings of large-scale electric signals from the nervous system, such as electroencephalography, may also be referred to as electrophysiological recordings. They are useful for electrodiagnosis and monitoring.

Galvanic cell

A galvanic cell or voltaic cell, named after Luigi Galvani or Alessandro Volta, respectively, is an electrochemical cell that derives electrical energy from spontaneous redox reactions taking place within the cell. It generally consists of two different metals immersed in an electrolyte, or of individual half-cells with different metals and their ions in solution connected by a salt bridge or separated by a porous membrane.

Volta was the inventor of the voltaic pile, the first electrical battery. In common usage, the word "battery" has come to include a single galvanic cell, but a battery properly consists of multiple cells.

Gas tungsten arc welding

Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce the weld. The weld area and electrode is protected from oxidation or other atmospheric contamination by an inert shielding gas (argon or helium), and a filler metal is normally used, though some welds, known as autogenous welds, do not require it. A constant-current welding power supply produces electrical energy, which is conducted across the arc through a column of highly ionized gas and metal vapors known as a plasma.

GTAW is most commonly used to weld thin sections of stainless steel and non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, magnesium, and copper alloys. The process grants the operator greater control over the weld than competing processes such as shielded metal arc welding and gas metal arc welding, allowing for stronger, higher quality welds. However, GTAW is comparatively more complex and difficult to master, and furthermore, it is significantly slower than most other welding techniques. A related process, plasma arc welding, uses a slightly different welding torch to create a more focused welding arc and as a result is often automated.

Glass electrode

A glass electrode is a type of ion-selective electrode made of a doped glass membrane that is sensitive to a specific ion. The most common application of ion-selective glass electrodes is for the measurement of pH. The pH electrode is an example of a glass electrode that is sensitive to hydrogen ions. Glass electrodes play an important part in the instrumentation for chemical analysis and physico-chemical studies. The voltage of the glass electrode, relative to some reference value, is sensitive to changes in the activity of certain type of ions.

Ground (electricity)

In electrical engineering, ground or earth is the reference point in an electrical circuit from which voltages are measured, a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the earth.

Electrical circuits may be connected to ground (earth) for several reasons. Exposed metal parts of electrical equipment are connected to ground, so that failures of internal insulation will trigger protective mechanisms such as fuses or circuit breakers in the circuit to remove power from the device. This ensures that exposed parts can never have a dangerous voltage with respect to ground, which could cause an electric shock if a grounded person touched them. In electric power distribution systems, a protective earth (PE) conductor is an essential part of the safety provided by the earthing system.

Connection to ground also limits the build-up of static electricity when handling flammable products or electrostatic-sensitive devices. In some telegraph and power transmission circuits, the earth itself can be used as one conductor of the circuit, saving the cost of installing a separate return conductor (see single-wire earth return).

For measurement purposes, the Earth serves as a (reasonably) constant potential reference against which other potentials can be measured. An electrical ground system should have an appropriate current-carrying capability to serve as an adequate zero-voltage reference level. In electronic circuit theory, a "ground" is usually idealized as an infinite source or sink for charge, which can absorb an unlimited amount of current without changing its potential. Where a real ground connection has a significant resistance, the approximation of zero potential is no longer valid. Stray voltages or earth potential rise effects will occur, which may create noise in signals or if large enough will produce an electric shock hazard.

The use of the term ground (or earth) is so common in electrical and electronics applications that circuits in portable electronic devices such as cell phones and media players as well as circuits in vehicles may be spoken of as having a "ground" connection without any actual connection to the Earth, despite "common" being a more appropriate term for such a connection. This is usually a large conductor attached to one side of the power supply (such as the "ground plane" on a printed circuit board) which serves as the common return path for current from many different components in the circuit.

Ion selective electrode

An ion-selective electrode (ISE), also known as a specific ion electrode (SIE), is a transducer (or sensor) that converts the activity of a specific ion dissolved in a solution into an electrical potential. The voltage is theoretically dependent on the logarithm of the ionic activity, according to the Nernst equation. Ion-selective electrodes are used in analytical chemistry and biochemical/biophysical research, where measurements of ionic concentration in an aqueous solution are required.

Lithium-ion battery

A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery (abbreviated as LIB) is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are common rechargeable batteries for portable electronics, with a high energy density, no memory effect (other than LFP cells) and low self-discharge. LIBs are also growing in popularity for military, battery electric vehicle and aerospace applications.Chemistry, performance, cost and safety characteristics vary across LIB types. Handheld electronics mostly use LIBs based on lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), which offers high energy density but presents safety risks, especially when damaged. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium ion manganese oxide battery (LiMn2O4, Li2MnO3, or LMO), and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC) offer lower energy density but longer lives and less likelihood of fire or explosion. Such batteries are widely used for electric tools, medical equipment, and other roles. NMC in particular is a leading contender for automotive applications. Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2 or NCA) and lithium titanate (Li4Ti5O12 or LTO) are specialty designs aimed at particular niche roles. The newer lithium–sulfur batteries promise the higher performance-to-weight ratio.

Lithium-ion batteries can be a safety hazard since they contain a flammable electrolyte and may become pressurized if they beome damaged. A battery cell charged too quickly could cause a short circuit, leading to explosions and fires. Because of these risks, testing standards are more stringent than those for acid-electrolyte batteries, requiring both a broader range of test conditions and additional battery-specific tests, and there are shipping limitations imposed by safety regulators. There have been battery-related recalls by some companies, including the 2016 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall for battery fires.Another problem can occur if a lithium-ion battery is damaged or crushed, or if a battery without overcharge protection is subjected to a higher electrical load than it can safely handle. Additionally, an external short circuit can trigger the batteries to explode.Research areas for lithium-ion batteries include life extension, energy density, safety, cost reduction, and charging speed, among others. Research has also been under way for aqueous lithium-ion batteries, which have demonstrated fewer potential safety hazards due to their use of non-flammable electrolytes.


In chemistry, pH () is a logarithmic scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. It is approximately the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the molar concentration, measured in units of moles per liter, of hydrogen ions. More precisely it is the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the activity of the hydrogen ion. At 25 °C, solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic. The neutral value of the pH depends on the temperature, being lower than 7 if the temperature increases. Pure water is neutral, pH 7 at (25 °C), being neither an acid nor a base. Contrary to popular belief, the pH value can be less than 0 or greater than 14 for very strong acids and bases respectively.Measurements of pH are important in agronomy, medicine, chemistry, water treatment, and many other applications.

The pH scale is traceable to a set of standard solutions whose pH is established by international agreement.

Primary pH standard values are determined using a concentration cell with transference, by measuring the potential difference between a hydrogen electrode and a standard electrode such as the silver chloride electrode.

The pH of aqueous solutions can be measured with a glass electrode and a pH meter, or an indicator.

There are three current theories used to describe acid–base reactions: Arrhenius, Bronsted-Lowry and Lewis when determining pH.

PH meter

A pH meter is a scientific instrument that measures the hydrogen-ion activity in water-based solutions, indicating its acidity or alkalinity expressed as pH. The pH meter measures the difference in electrical potential between a pH electrode and a reference electrode, and so the pH meter is sometimes referred to as a "potentiometric pH meter". The difference in electrical potential relates to the acidity or pH of the solution. The pH meter is used in many applications ranging from laboratory experimentation to quality control.

Shielded metal arc welding

Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as manual metal arc welding (MMA or MMAW), flux shielded arc welding or informally as stick welding, is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode covered with a flux to lay the weld.

An electric current, in the form of either alternating current or direct current from a welding power supply, is used to form an electric arc between the electrode and the metals to be joined. The workpiece and the electrode melts forming a pool of molten metal (weld pool) that cools to form a joint. As the weld is laid, the flux coating of the electrode disintegrates, giving off vapors that serve as a shielding gas and providing a layer of slag, both of which protect the weld area from atmospheric contamination.

Because of the versatility of the process and the simplicity of its equipment and operation, shielded metal arc welding is one of the world's first and most popular welding processes. It dominates other welding processes in the maintenance and repair industry, and though flux-cored arc welding is growing in popularity, SMAW continues to be used extensively in the construction of heavy steel structures and in industrial fabrication. The process is used primarily to weld iron and steels (including stainless steel) but aluminium, nickel and copper alloys can also be welded with this method.

Spark plug

A spark plug (sometimes, in British English, a sparking plug, and, colloquially, a plug) is a device for delivering electric current from an ignition system to the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine to ignite the compressed fuel/air mixture by an electric spark, while containing combustion pressure within the engine. A spark plug has a metal threaded shell, electrically isolated from a central electrode by a porcelain insulator. The central electrode, which may contain a resistor, is connected by a heavily insulated wire to the output terminal of an ignition coil or magneto. The spark plug's metal shell is screwed into the engine's cylinder head and thus electrically grounded. The central electrode protrudes through the porcelain insulator into the combustion chamber, forming one or more spark gaps between the inner end of the central electrode and usually one or more protuberances or structures attached to the inner end of the threaded shell and designated the side, earth, or ground electrode(s).

Spark plugs may also be used for other purposes; in Saab Direct Ignition when they are not firing, spark plugs are used to measure ionization in the cylinders – this ionic current measurement is used to replace the ordinary cam phase sensor, knock sensor and misfire measurement function. Spark plugs may also be used in other applications such as furnaces wherein a combustible fuel/air mixture must be ignited. In this case, they are sometimes referred to as flame igniters.

Standard electrode potential

In electrochemistry, standard electrode potential is defined as the measure of the individual potential of reversible electrode at standard state with ions at an effective concentration of 1mol dm-3 at the pressure of 1 atm.The basis for an electrochemical cell, such as the galvanic cell, is always a redox reaction which can be broken down into two half-reactions: oxidation at anode (loss of electron) and reduction at cathode (gain of electron). Electricity is generated due to electric potential difference between two electrodes. This potential difference is created as a result of the difference between individual potentials of the two metal electrodes with respect to the electrolyte. (Reversible electrode is an electrode that owes its potential to changes of a reversible nature, in contrast to electrodes used in electroplating which are destroyed during their use.) It is the measure of reducing power of any element or compound

Although the overall potential of a cell can be measured, there is no simple way to accurately measure the electrode/electrolyte potentials in isolation. The electric potential also varies with temperature, concentration and pressure. Since the oxidation potential of a half-reaction is the negative of the reduction potential in a redox reaction, it is sufficient to calculate either one of the potentials. Therefore, standard electrode potential is commonly written as standard reduction potential.


A supercapacitor (SC) (also called a supercap, ultracapacitor or Goldcap) is a high-capacity capacitor with capacitance values much higher than other capacitors (but lower voltage limits) that bridge the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries. They typically store 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries.

Supercapacitors are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term compact energy storage: within cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage or burst-mode power delivery. Smaller units are used as memory backup for static random-access memory (SRAM).

Unlike ordinary capacitors, supercapacitors do not use the conventional solid dielectric, but rather, they use electrostatic double-layer capacitance and electrochemical pseudocapacitance, both of which contribute to the total capacitance of the capacitor, with a few differences:

Electrostatic double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) use carbon electrodes or derivatives with much higher electrostatic double-layer capacitance than electrochemical pseudocapacitance, achieving separation of charge in a Helmholtz double layer at the interface between the surface of a conductive electrode and an electrolyte. The separation of charge is of the order of a few ångströms (0.3–0.8 nm), much smaller than in a conventional capacitor.

Electrochemical pseudocapacitors use metal oxide or conducting polymer electrodes with a high amount of electrochemical pseudocapacitance additional to the double-layer capacitance. Pseudocapacitance is achieved by Faradaic electron charge-transfer with redox reactions, intercalation or electrosorption.

Hybrid capacitors, such as the lithium-ion capacitor, use electrodes with differing characteristics: one exhibiting mostly electrostatic capacitance and the other mostly electrochemical capacitance.The electrolyte forms an ionic conductive connection between the two electrodes which distinguishes them from conventional electrolytic capacitors where a dielectric layer always exists, and the so-called electrolyte (e.g., MnO2 or conducting polymer) is in fact part of the second electrode (the cathode, or more correctly the positive electrode). Supercapacitors are polarized by design with asymmetric electrodes, or, for symmetric electrodes, by a potential applied during manufacture.

Working electrode

The working electrode is the electrode in an electrochemical system on which the reaction of interest is occurring. The working electrode is often used in conjunction with an auxiliary electrode, and a reference electrode in a three electrode system. Depending on whether the reaction on the electrode is a reduction or an oxidation, the working electrode is called cathodic or anodic, respectively. Common working electrodes can consist of materials ranging from inert metals such as gold, silver or platinum, to inert carbon such as glassy carbon, boron doped diamond or pyrolytic carbon, and mercury drop and film electrodes. Chemically modified electrodes are employed for the analysis of both organic and inorganic samples.

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