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Electrolytes for experiment

  1. Sep 30, 2009 #1
    I’m doing an experiment for my A level physics course. The aim of the experiment is to find an approximate value for the size of an atom, through electrolysis of metals. I’ve been told I need to extend the experiment to try and find some sort of “conclusion” from the results (rather than a single value). My new experiment is to determine the atomic radii of several metals that form a face-centered cubic structure. I would use electrolysis to find the atomic mass, and then use the atomic mass and density (with a bit of geometry) to calculate the atomic radius. Then for my conclusion I could compare the values and try and find a relationship between the atomic radius and the nuclear structure of the metals.

    My problem is not in the theory of electrolysis but in the chemical feasibility of my experiment. I need to electrolyse Aluminium, copper, nickel, lead and silver (I’ve discounted other FCC metals due to cost) but I’m not sure what electrolytes to use. Bearing in mind that I only have standard high school apparatus and one week in which to do the experiment what electrolytes would you guys suggest? I’m hoping for relatively fast electrolysis with no highly reactive/dangerous/toxic chemicals involved.

    I know there are problems with my experiment (I’m hoping for a better write up if I have some comments to make about accuracy etc.) but feel free to make any suggestions to improve things.

    Thanks for any help
  2. jcsd
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