Not Electrochemistry on a Skateboard, but electrochemistry in places you might not
As an analytical tool, electrochemistry has
been under-rated for too long. Because of their instrumental
simplicity and wide range of application areas,
electrochemical methods are receiving some long overdue
attention. Here are two recent examples.
Electrochemistry in Inner Space
Doing science at the bottom of the ocean is not an easy
affair. The intense pressure makes survival of instrument and
scientist a challenge. Often ignored, the thermodynamic
effects of the P V term become important. Taking
samples for later analysis in a 'surface' laboratory does not
preserve the delicate equilibrium and speciation which exists
under these extreme deep-sea conditions.
A recent article in Today's Chemist
tells of some of the results from a recent dive in the
deep-sea submersible, ALVIN, which was equipped with a
voltammetric analyzer. A poster (#1519P) was also presented at PittCon 2000. (See the Sunday Technical
A review article, "The Application of Electrochemical Tools for
In Situ Measurements in Aquatic Systems," has
also recently been published.
Also see "Chemical speciation drives hydrothermal vent ecology",
GW Luther III, et. al., Nature 410, 813 - 816 (2001) Note:
Free registration required to read abstract.
Electrochemistry in Outer Space
Chemistry in outer space is not an easy affair either,
but for different reasons. Extra-terrestrial electrochemistry generally doesn't have the high pressures of
Deep Sea Electrochemistry, but you do have to bring your own
electrolyte! And don't let your reference electrode dry out,
replacing it isn't easy!
In the February 2000 edition of SEAC Communications, Sam
Kounaves gives a short summary of the electrochemical
instrumentation package which is to be sent to Mars (subtitled
"Where no electrode has gone before!") More
information and links are available on the Kounaves
Group web page.
For some earlier analytical chemistry done on
Mars, go to the library and check out
Anal Chem, 67 (1995), p 605A.
Amer Lab, Oct 1999, p48.
Update! The MECA package was launched
in August 2007 and landed on Mars on 05/25/08. Check here for up
to date information.