We provide background to the problem of describing the state of redox couples in different types of solvent media ranging from acidic aqueous solutions to high temperature molten silicates, pointing out the essential similarity between these solvent media in Lewis acid-base terms. We review the adaptation of the Gurney proton energy level diagram approach to the case of electron transfer processes. Using data from various spectroscopic and analytical chemistry sources, we review the construction of electron free energy level diagrams for redox couples in aqueous and non-aqueous systems using, as a common reference, the potential of the oxygen gas (1 atm)/oxide ion couple in the solution of interest. We emphasize the anomalous effect of "oxide ion activity" (mean ionic activity of alkali oxide) on the state of equilibrium and interpret this in terms of oxide ion transfers that accompany electron transfers. After showing the essential agreement between recent direct electrochemical assessments of the energy levels and those deduced in our original analysis of oxidic melts of different glass formers, we provide an interpretation of the apparent "oxide ion transfer" in terms of the differential medium polarization by the two redox species involved in the equilibrium. We anticipate the extension of these ideas to redox chemistry in the currently burgeoning field of "ionic liquids" in its recent ambient temperature liquid incarnation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering