Microelectrolysis using a carbon fibre anode

Electrolysis can be carried out on aqueous solutions of less than 1cm3 in volume. This reduces waste, reduces risk and can be achieved in minutes. All the experiments below used approximately 0.1M solutions, except for silver nitrate and tin (II) chloride which were about 0.05M.

Equipment DSCN0209

Equipment for carrying out micro-electrolysis

The electrolysis is carried out in the well of a spotting tile using a pencil lead cathode and a carbon fibre anode.

Equipment close-up DSCN0210

Close-up of the spotting tile, pencil lead and carbon fibre

The carbon fibre is moistened at one end with distilled water and then wound into a simple loop.

Carbon fibre loop DSCN0212

Carbon fibre loop

The electrolyte, carbon fibre loop and pencil lead are set-up for electrolysis in one of the wells of the spotting tile.


Copper sulfate solution ready to be electrolysed

The electrodes are connected with standard laboratory crocodile clips and leads to a d.c. power pack.  When the power pack is turned on ( 6 – 12v) results can be observed in seconds.


Copper sulfate after about 1 minute of electrolysis


Tin (II) chloride


Tin (II) chloride close-up


Silver nitrate


Zinc sulfate


Lead (II) nitrate

Thanks to Bob Worley of Microchemuk for inspiration and encouragement with the development of these experiments.

Movies of various micro-electrolysis experiments can be seen by clicking on the links below:

Silver nitrate

Copper (II) sulfate

Zinc sulfate

and Lead (II) nitrate