A silver voltmeter consists of a glass vessel containing aqueous solution of silver nitrate (AgNO3) which acts as electrolyte. There are two silver plates which are partly immersed in the electrolyte which act as electrodes. The electrodes are connected to ammeter A, battery B, rheostat Rh and key K.
When a steady current is passed through AgNO3 solution, silver is deposited on the cathode C and an equivalent amount of silver is dissolved from the anode A1.
Explanation: silver nitrate in water dissociates as follows:
AgNO3 Ag+ + NO3-
When current is passed through AgNO3 solution, the Ag+ ions drift towards the cathode and there, they get neutralized by electrons flowing in from the negative terminal of the battery. Hence
At cathode: Ag+ + e- Ag
The Ag atoms so produced get deposited on the cathode. Similarly the NO3- ions move towards the anode and on reaching there, they loose their electrons become neutral. The electrons so released flow towards the positive terminal of the battery. The neutral nitrate ions react with silver atoms forming silver nitrate. These silver nitrate molecules get dissolved into the solution, due to which the concentration of solution remains unchanged. Hence
Ag + NO3- (Ag + NO3-) + e-
Thus in the above process, the silver dissolves from the anode and gets deposited on the cathode. During this process, the concentration of the electrolyte remains unchanged. In this process one electron per reaction is active and valence of Ag atom is also one.
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