The intersection of interfacial forces and electrochemical reactions

We review recent developments in experimental techniques that simultaneously combine measurements of the interaction forces or energies between two extended surfaces immersed in electrolyte solutions—primarily aqueous—with simultaneous monitoring of their (electro)chemical reactions and controlling the electrochemical surface potential of at least one of the surfaces. Combination of these complementary techniques allows for simultaneous real time monitoring of angstrom level changes in surface thickness and roughness, surface–surface interaction energies, and charge and mass transferred via electrochemical reactions, dissolution, and adsorption, and/or charging of electric double layers. These techniques employ the surface forces apparatus (SFA) combined with various “electrochemical attachments” for in situ measurements of various physical and (electro)chemical properties (e.g., cyclic voltammetry), optical imaging, and electric potentials and currents generated naturally during an interaction, as well as when electric fields (potential differences) are applied between the surfaces and/or solution—in some cases allowing for the chemical reaction equation to be unambiguously determined. We discuss how the physical interactions between two different surfaces when brought close to each other (<10 nm) can affect their chemistry, and suggest further extensions of these techniques to biological systems and simultaneous in situ spectroscopic measurements for chemical analysis.

J. N. Israelachvili, K. Kristiansen, M. A. Gebbie, D. W. Lee, S. H. Donaldson, S. Das, M. V Rapp, X. Banquy, M. Valtiner, and J. Yu
J. Phys. Chem. B
Volume: 117
Number: 51
Pages: 16369–87
Date: December, 2013
ICB Affiliated Authors: Jacob N Israelachvili