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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unravelling the electrochemical double layer by direct probing of the solid/liquid interface


The electrochemical double layer plays a critical role in electrochemical processes. Whilst there have been many theoretical models predicting structural and electrical organization of the electrochemical double layer, the experimental verification of these models has been challenging due to the limitations of available experimental techniques. The induced potential drop in the electrolyte has never been directly observed and verified experimentally, to the best of our knowledge. In this study, we report the direct probing of the potential drop as well as the potential of zero charge by means of ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy performed under polarization conditions. By analyzing the spectra of the solvent (water) and a spectator neutral molecule with numerical simulations of the electric field, we discern the shape of the electrochemical double layer profile. In addition, we determine how the electrochemical double layer changes as a function of both the electrolyte concentration and applied potential.

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