Question Video: Assigning the Correct Labels to a Generic Cell Notation Chemistry

The figure describes a generic cell diagram. The X term represents one chemical element. The Y term represents a different element. What terms should be put into boxes one through four?


Video Transcript

The figure describes a generic cell diagram. The X-term represents one chemical element. The Y-term represents a different element. What terms should be put into boxes one through four? (A) Anode, cathode, oxidation, oxidation. (B) Anode, cathode, reduction, oxidation. (C) Anode, anode, oxidation, reduction. (D) Cathode, cathode, oxidation, reduction. (E) Anode, cathode, oxidation, reduction.

In this question, we want to know what term should be placed in the boxes to correctly label a generic cell diagram. This notation is called a cell diagram. It can also be called the cell notation. We typically use cell diagrams as a shorthand to write the information about a galvanic cell. A galvanic cell is a type of electrochemical cell where electrons are generated spontaneously by a redox reaction. In other words, in a galvanic cell, chemical energy is converted to electrical energy.

As with all electrochemical cells, a galvanic cell has both a cathode and an anode. The anode is an electrode which undergoes oxidation, while a cathode is where reduction occurs. As electrons leave the anode, oxidizing it, positive ions also leave the anode and go into solution. As electrons from the external circuit, or wire, enter the cathode, reducing it, positive ions in solution gain these electrons.

In a generic cell diagram, information about the galvanic cell is written in a specific place. On the left-hand side, information about the anode is written. We start by writing the chemical symbol for the metal electrode. This is followed by a vertical line that indicates a phase boundary. The symbol and charge of the matching ion in solution are then written, and the anode half-cell is complete. The salt bridge linking the two half-cells is represented by the double vertical line.

On the right-hand side, information regarding the cathode is written. This includes the metal ion in solution. There is also a vertical line indicating a phase boundary. Finally, there is the symbol for the cathode element.

We know that oxidation occurs at the anode where atoms are converted to positive metal ions as electrons are lost. And we know that reduction occurs at the cathode as the metal ions in solution gain electrons and are converted to neutral atoms. We can see that the correct answers for the boxes one through four match answer choice (E). So the correct terms for boxes one to four are (E) anode, cathode, oxidation, reduction.

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