Cyclically optimized electrochemical processes
Ruedisueli, Robert Louis
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It has been frequently observed in experiment and industry practice that electrochemical processes (deposition, dissolution, fuel cells) operated in an intermittent or cyclic (AC) mode show improvements in efficiency and/or quality and yield over their steady (DC) mode of operation. Whether rationally invoked by design or empirically tuned-in, the optimal operating frequency and duty cycle is dependent upon the dominant relaxation time constant for the process in question.The electrochemical relaxation time constant is a function of: double-layer and reaction intermediary pseudo-capacitances, ion (charge) transport via electrical migration (mobility), and diffusion across a concentration gradient to electrode surface reaction sites where charge transfer and species incorporation or elimination occurs. The rate determining step dominates the time constant for the reaction or process.Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and piezoelectric crystal electrode (PCE) response analysis have proven to be useful tools in the study and identification of reaction mechanisms. This work explains and demonstrates with the electro-deposition of copper the application of EIS and PCE measurement and analysis to the selection of an optimum cyclic operating schedule, an optimum driving frequency for efficient, sustained cyclic (pulsed) operation.