Theoretical problems in solid electrocapillarity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The main problem in electrocapillarity of solid electrodes is the lack of clarity in determining the surface stress and basic equations. Within the framework of the Gibbs concept of geometrical dividing surface, the “surface stress” cannot be defined because methods of continuum mechanics can be applied to a physical surface layer (of finite thickness), but not to a mathematical surface. Gibbs never used the concept of surface stress, introducing only “surface tension” for a liquid electrode and “closely related quantity” for a solid electrode. Revisiting the derivation of the Gibbs adsorption equation, we prove its applicability to solid surfaces without the limiting requirement of constant state of strain, which was undeservedly interpreted by Eriksson as a shortcoming of the Gibbs theory caused to look for other approaches to surface stress problem. A critical analysis shows that the attempts (Shuttleworth, Eriksson, Couchman, Gokhstein, Weissmüller, etc.) to create a thermodynamic definition of the surface stress (as well as the formulation of fundamental thermodynamic equations and Maxwell relations operating with surface stresses) contain mathematical defects. It is shown that confusing interpretations of some Gibbs’ concepts encountered in the literature have led to “modifications” of the Lippmann equation based on the critical error in the Gibbs–Duhem relation due to the occurrence of an extensive variable, which is inadmissible. The famous Lippmann equation should not be modified, and it remains a unique electrocapillary relation applicable to liquid and solid electrodes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3217-3237
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Solid State Electrochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 9 Dec 2014


  • Electrocapillarity
  • Gibbs theory
  • Lippmann equation
  • Solid mechanics
  • Surface thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Theoretical problems in solid electrocapillarity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this