SFG Study of the Potential-Dependent Adsorption of the p-Toluenesulfonate Anion at an Activated Carbon/Propylene Carbonate Interface

20 Nov 2017

Sum frequency generation spectroscopy has been used to characterize the potential-dependent adsorption of the p-toluenesulfonate anion at the activated carbon/propylene carbonate interface of the commercial carbon YP50F. Spectra recorded from the interface between YP50F and a 1 M tetraethylammonium p-toluenesulfonate in propylene carbonate solution showed no ordered anion adsorption without an applied potential. In contrast, there is clear evidence of increasingly ordered anion adsorption with applied potential. Furthermore, there is evidence of hysteresis such that the anion remains adsorbed when the applied potential was decreased back to 0 V. Significant reversal of polarity was required before the anion signal was lost. Changes to the propylene carbonate solvent peaks during the electrochemical cycle were also observed. The data indicate that the positive electrode charges either via a counterion adsorption mechanism or via an ion-exchange mechanism.