Formation of Dendritic Metal Crystals in Aqueous Solutions Through Direct Electric Current

Milan Šmídl, Tereza Špitálská, Václav Šícha


volume: 31
year: 2022
issue: 1
fulltext: PDF

online publishing date: 17/5/2022
DOI: 10.14712/25337556.2022.1.3
ISSN (Online): 2533-7556

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Electrolysis has long been a well-known and relatively widespread process in education at primary and secondary schools, which is used mainly as a demonstration experiment in front of students. We most often encounter simpler applications (for example, electrolysis of water or sodium or copper (II) chloride solution). This paper is focused on the lesser-known electrolysis of aqueous solutions of metal salts, which precipitate in a crystalline form in the form of micro trees (dendrites) when an electric current passes through it. For example, dendrites of tin, lead, silver, or copper, which differ in shape, can be prepared in this way. Dendrites are stable and can be easily isolated from a solution. The purpose of the paper is to bring electrolysis closer to high school students, which is effective and very interesting for them, but at the same time financially inexpensive and saves time, because these crystallizations take place in minutes and students can directly observe the nascent product. The paper also evaluates selected conditions (the influence of the substances used and their concentration in a solution, size of applied voltage, electrode material), which can have a fundamental influence on the rate of crystal formation or their shape and size. The theoretical background of electrolysis is mentioned only marginally in the paper, because it is quite extensive, complex, and not crucial for the given matter.


electrolysis, dendrites, metals, silver, copper, lead, tin, redox process

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