A new electrocatalytic mechanism for the oxidation of phenols at platinum electrodes

Silvana Andreescu, Daniel Andreescu, Omowunmi A. Sadik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Electrochemical oxidation of phenolic compounds generally produces unstable phenoxy radicals that readily polymerize to passivate the surface of solid electrodes. In this study, the electrocatalytic oxidation of phenol in the presence and absence of methanol was investigated by cyclic voltammetry on a platinum electrode. The cyclic voltammogram of phenol in a mixture of phosphate buffer/methanol solution showed well-defined peaks at ∼600 mV vs. Ag/AgCl reference electrode, which surprising, gradually increased with repetitive scanning, stabilizing after 50 cycles. This unexpected behavior is in contrast to previous studies involving phenolic compounds, which always show a decrease in intensity during continuous potential scanning. Scanning electrochemical spectroscopy (SEM) was further used to investigate the changes in the surface morphology of the Pt electrode after electrodeposition. A new electrocatalytic mechanism for phenol oxidation on the surface of a Pt electrode is suggested in the presence of methanol. The proposed mechanism is based on the formation of a film of Pt oxide/hydroxides onto which the phenol and the products of its electrochemical oxidation are further deposited. The mechanism was also studied using more complex phenolic compounds including resveratrol, quercetin and bisphenol A. The results emphasized the effect of aryl substituents on the electrochemistry of this particular class of compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-688
Number of pages8
JournalElectrochemistry Communications
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrochemistry


  • Cyclic voltammetry
  • Electrocatalytic oxidation
  • Methanol
  • Phenol
  • Pt


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