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During lecture today, Dr. Lavelle discussed how the potential difference between electrodes is always at its maximum. He used the example of a volume change when pouring one beaker's solution into the other to illustrate this. Could someone please explain this concept to me? I don't think I got all the information when he was lecturing about it. Also, to go along with this, why is it that this maximum potential is the emf of the cell when the process is reversible in the limit as i-->0?
For the reversible process, I personally believe that professor Lavelle just wanted to emphasize that the transfer of e- for each step is very small, which makes the potential difference change slowly. And it doesn't mean that the flow of e- is reversible I guess. But I am not sure if my answer is correct.
For the volume change, I believe Dr. Lavelle meant that you cannot accurately measure the difference in volume between two beakers when one beaker is being poured into the other. In the same way, it is difficult to measure potential difference when a current is flowing from one beaker to the other. Therefore the maximum potential difference is found when current is not flowing, or when lim i -->0. Hope that helps!
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