WIAS Preprint No. 2201, (2015)

New insights on the interfacial tension of electrochemical interfaces and the Lippmann equation


  • Dreyer, Wolfgang
  • Guhlke, Clemens
  • Landstorfer, Manuel
  • Müller, Rüdiger
    ORCID: 0000-0003-2643-722X

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 78A57 35Q70 35C20

2008 Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme

  • 82.45.Mp 68.05.-n 61.25.Mv


  • Lippmann equation, Electrochemistry, liquid-liquid interface, asymptotic analysis


The Lippmann equation is considered as universal relationship between interfacial tension, double layer charge, and cell potential. Based on the framework of continuum thermo-electrodynamics we provide some crucial new insights to this relation. In a previous work we have derived a general thermodynamic consistent model for electrochemical interfaces, which showed a remarkable agreement to single crystal experimental data. Here we apply the model to a curved liquid metal electrode. If the electrode radius is large compared to the Debye length, we apply asymptotic analysis methods and obtain the Lippmann equation. We give precise definitions of the involved quantities and show that the interfacial tension of the Lippmann equation is composed of the surface tension of our general model, and contributions arising from the adjacent space charge layers. This finding is confirmed by a comparison of our model to experimental data of several mercury-electrolyte interfaces. We obtain qualitative and quantitative agreement in the 2V potential range for various salt concentrations. We also discuss the validity of our asymptotic model when the electrode curvature radius is comparable to the Debye length.

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