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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Electrochemistry, Second Edition by Carl H. Hamann, Andrew Hamnett, Wolf Vielstich (Wiley-VCH) This second, completely updated edition of a classic textbook provides a concise introduction to the fundamental principles of modern electrochemistry, with an emphasis on applications in energy technology. The renowned and experienced scientist authors present the material in a didactically skilful and lucid manner.

They cover the physical-chemical fundamentals as well as such modern methods of investigation as spectroelectrochemistry and mass spectrometry, electrochemical analysis and production methods, as well as fuel cells and micro- and nanotechnology.

The result is a must-have for advanced chemistry students as well as those studying chemical engineering, materials science and physics.

Nearly a decade has passed since the first edition of this textbook, and developments in the discipline of electrochemistry have been rapid and on a remarkably wide front. Increasingly, electrochemistry impacts on areas of science once quite remote from the central concerns of traditional electrochemists, and in turn these other areas are having a major impact on the range and extent of knowledge with which modern electrochemists must be familiar. A generation ago, for example, aside from some optical methods, spectroscopy had little to offer electrochemistry: now it is one of the largest chapters in the current text. Fundamental theoretical studies, using ab initio methods, now allow us to probe basic molecular processes in the vicinity of the electrode surface that are finally giving us direct glimpses of behaviour that, until recently, we could only model with crude approximations. The advent of scanning surface microscopies has allowed us to study the arrangements of atoms and mole­cules on surfaces, and how these change with potential and electrolyte, as well as shedding new light on processes such as corrosion that depend on spatial inhomo­geneities at the electrode surface. New materials, often developed for different pur­poses, have allowed us to develop new technologies, such as low-temperature so­lid-state fuel cells, and in turn new materials developed by electrochemists, such as electroactive polymers, are having far-reaching impacts on other technologies.

This ferment of ideas has somehow to be incorporated into our textbook in ways that do not cause the book to become too large to be useful to students. We have tried to bring in new material but also to remove older material where this could be safely done without imperiling the overall coverage. In the earlier chapters, the main changes have been in the introduction of new insights from ab initio theories. This is a very new area, but already exciting discoveries have been made. Chapters 4 and 5 remain the physico-chemical core of the text, and we have introduced many changes to reflect modern approaches and techniques. We have also added a section on bio­electrochemistry, emphasizing the differences in behaviour associated with long-range electron transfer. Chapter 6, on mechanisms, has been completely re-written to accommodate the explosion in our understanding of such processes as electro-oxi­dation of methanol and CO. We have also added sections on electro-polymerisation and oscillating electrochemical reactions, reflecting enormous modern interest in these areas. Chapter 7 has been extended to include modern developments in mem­branes for cells, and a brief introduction to the important area of room-temperature melts. The final three chapters have all been updated as the relevant technologies have developed. We are particularly conscious of the profound impact that developments in bio-electrochemistry will have on sensors in the future, and in this, as in many other areas, we can offer signposts and the confidence that in an ever-widening group of disciplines, the skills of the electrochemist will be urgently needed.