The higher harmonic components available from large-amplitude Fourier-transformed alternating current (FT-ac) voltammetry enable the surface active state of a copper electrode in basic media to be probed in much more detail than possible with previously used dc methods. In particular, the absence of capacitance background current allows low-level Faradaic current contributions of fast electron transfer processes to be detected; these are usually completely undetectable under conditions of dc cyclic voltammetry. Under high harmonic FT-ac voltammetric conditions, copper electrodes exhibit well-defined and reversible premonolayer oxidation responses at potentials within the double layer region in basic 1.0 M NaOH media. This process is attributed to oxidation of copper adatoms (Cu*) of low bulk metal lattice coordination numbers to surface-bonded, reactive hydrated oxide species. Of further interest is the observation that cathodic polarization in 1.0 M NaOH significantly enhances the current detected in each of the fundamental to sixth FT-ac harmonic components in the Cu*/Cu hydrous oxide electron-transfer process which enables the underlying electron transfer processes in the higher harmonics to be studied under conditions where the dc capacitance response is suppressed; the results support the incipient hydrous oxide adatom mediator (IHOAM) model of electrocatalysis. The underlying quasi-reversible interfacial Cu*/Cu hydrous oxide process present under these conditions is shown to mediate the reduction of nitrate at a copper electrode, while the mediator for the hydrazine oxidation reaction appears to involve a different mediator or active state redox couple. Use of FT-ac voltammetry offers prospects for new insights into the nature of active sites and electrocatalysis at the electrode/solution interface of Group 11 metals in aqueous media.
Shiddiky, M., O'Mullane, A., Zhang, J., Burke, L., & Bond, A. (2011). Large amplitude fourier transformed AC voltammetric investigation of the active state electrochemistry of a copper/aqueous base interface and implications for electrocatalysis. Langmuir, 27(16), 10302 - 10311. https://doi.org/10.1021/la2017819