A potentiostat is an electronic device that has multiple applications in the electrochemistry world, but not only. These devices were developed to regulate the voltage between a working electrode and a reference electrode, which are usually contained in an electrical cell. Usually used in electrochemistry, this small device has plenty of applications, most of those, practical ones. For instance, let’s assume that a chemist is trying to find out the lead concentrations in water of a certain source. A potentiostat will effectively determine the presence of various compounds in a wide range of liquids. These devices are also used to detect iron in the blood, but also have the potential to detect the way water impacts metals when there appears a contact between the two. Portable ones allow scientists and researchers to get data, without necessarily finding themselves in a laboratory.
Types of portable potentiostats
Electrochemical researchers use various types of potentiostats in their research activity and tests. While some are suitable to detect all types of compounds in all types of fluids, other have more restrictive applications.
- Potentiostats with wide ranges of detections – these devices are able to detect various compounds in certain liquids.
- Potentiostats with a single compound application – some other potentiostats have the ability to only detect a certain compound in liquids. These are generally known as OEM potentiostats.
- Some small devices allow detection of various compounds in various fluids, which makes those incredibly versatile.
While these portable devices are very versatile and bring an enormous aid to electrochemistry researchers, they demand the use of an appropriate software product. However, in the field, there are several other devices and measurement methods that make the work of an electrochemist significantly easier.
Key elements of high performing potentiostats
In potentiostat’s case, there are a series of other measurement devices, considered to be key elements for an accurate measurement.
- Electrometers – Electrometers are electrical devices used with the scope of measuring potential electric differences or the electrical charge. The evolution of these devices is an impressive one, today being incredibly high performing. Today’s electrometers have a zero-input current and an infinite input impedance, which are the ideal values.
- I/E Converters – These devices are frequently used in corrosion experiments, experiments where the current variations are significant.
- Signal Circuits – Are computer-controlled voltage sources. These are usually the output of a D/A converter and they serves the scope to convert computer-generated numbers into voltages.
- Galvanostats – These elements are used to apply an electric current to a liquid and are used to observe the reactions of the liquid. These are used to increase or decrease the substance by applying an electron current. These elements can be used in some cases as battery chargers.
Potentiostats incorporate these elements for proper results and accurate experiments. While the principles of electrochemistry have been developed over the centuries, even today’s application still follow those, largely. However, the immense help in the field has been brought by the incredible potential that technological advancements have brought. There are various types of potentiostats, each researcher being able to select the one that suits their needs best, from portable one, to compact laboratory devices.