Construction of Dropping Mercury Electrode: Advantages and Disadvantages

Darshan Singh

What is the Construction and working of Dropping Mercury Electrode


In the electrochemical processes, an Electrode plays a crucial role by allowing the transfer of electrons between the solution under investigation and the external circuit. This electron transfer makes it possible to detect and analyze electrochemical reactions which have several uses in different industries like pharmaceuticals

The dropping mercury electrode (DME) is a precise electrode that is used in electrochemical analysis which provides the continuous dropping of mercury onto a working electrode surface. Due to the continuous dropping of mercury, the surface remains fresh for electrochemical reactions and provides a highly sensitive and accurate analysis of the substance in the solution. 

Construction of Dropping Mercury Electrode

This is a very simple assembling of three parts that are below:
  1.  A Capillary ( Dimensions; Dia-0.05 to 0.08 mm, Length- 5 to 9 mm)
  2. The Reservoir Vessel ( Dimensions; 03 to 0.05mm  internal dia)
  3. Standing tube with a stopcock nearby. 5.5 centimeters of Corning marine barometer tube and 6 millimeters of soft glass are combined to form the capillary tube. The tungsten contact mercury wells in this reservoir vessel are used to link the mercury inside to an electrical system. 

A Step-by-step guide to constructing a Dropping Mercury Electrode

First of all, you have to collect all materials required to construct a Dropping Mercury Electrode including Mercury, Glass tube, Rubber tubing, Dropping funnel, Electrode holder, Power supply, Potassium chloride solution, Electrode wire, etc.

Preparation of Mercury

Mercury is a key component of the whole technology, prepare the mercury in the following manner with utmost care;

  1. Take a clean and dry glass container and fill the container with mercury.
  2. Add slowly 1% v/v Hydrochloric Acid to the container, and stir it to mix.
  3. Allow the mixture to settle down for a few minutes.
  4. Then remove the HCL layer from the top of the container. It removes the impurities in the mercury.
  5. Repeat step 4, for 2 to 3 times to ensure that all impurities have been removed from the mercury filled in the container.

Assembly of the Electrode

Step-by-step process of the assembly of the Electrode;

  1. First of all, attach the electrode holder to the electrical supply.
  2. Then connect the electrode wire to the holder.
  3. Connect the rubber tubing to the dropping funnel and glass tube
  4. Connect the dropping funnel to the electrode holder using the rubber tubing.
  5. Pour the prepared mercury into the dropping funnel.
Construction of Dropping Mercury Electrode: Advantages and Disadvantages

Working of Dropping Mercury Electrode

The Dropping Mercury Electrode can be used in different electrochemical measurement processes like polarography, cyclic voltammetry, and Chronoamperometry.

To make a Dropping Mercury Electrode (DME), make a small hole into the glass capillary tube, then pour the mercury into the tube. Fill the tube to a certain height. Thereafter, a mercury dropper is used to control the flow rate of droplets released.

In Cyclic Voltammetry, the current responsiveness of the system is measured as the DME's potential is linearly modulated over time. The Dropping Mercury Electrode is used in polarography to calculate an analyte's reduction potential. The DME is utilized in Chronoamperometry to gauge a system's time-dependent current response. 

The Dropping Mercury Electrode is a very flexible tool for electrochemical experiments, and its design and operation are essential for obtaining precise and trustworthy findings. The DME provides a fresh and repeatable electrode surface that ensures a high-level accuracy and consistency in the electrochemical measurements. 

Mercury is very important for the electrode process of the Dropping Mercury Electrodes. The name of the type of electrode that makes the mercury droplet, condenses into a meniscus at the electrode-solution contact. The mercury drop functions as both the working electrode and the reference electrode in the electrochemical cell. 

Polarography technique

Polarography is an electrochemical technique that is used to measure the current flow and determine electrochemical reactions. In this process, an electric current is applied to an electrode dip in the solution that is under analysis,  then the resulting current is measured as a function of the applied potential. 

As soon as the applied potential is increased, the flowing current initially increases till it reaches to its peak value, after some time it decreases to starting values. This peak current value corresponds to the electrochemical reaction happening at the electrode surface. Measure the peak current that is the method to determine the analyte present in the solution. Polarography is a tool for the measurement of chemical species, metal ions, and organic compounds. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dropping Mercury Electrode

Every type of electrode has its Pros and Cons. A Dropping Mercury Electrode has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are here;


  • In DME, High sensitivity to changes in concentration
  • Possibility of High Accuracy and Precision
  • In DME Process, it has the ability to measure trace amounts of analytes.
  • There is low resistance to mass transport


  • The handling of Mercury is not safe due to its toxic and hazardous nature.
  • The cost of DME electrodes is high
  • It requires special precautions for handling and storage of DME.


Conclusively, the construction and working of Dropping Mercury Electrode is a very necessary step to achieve the best results from electrochemical measurements. The process DME has the ability to provide a clean and reproducible electrode surface which is very important to obtain accurate and precise results. As my 20 years in this field, I recommend the use of DME in such measurements.


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  9. Osteryoung, J.G., House, D.A. (1963). "Determination of Solute Diffusion Coefficients by Dropping Electrode Techniques". Analytical Chemistry, vol. 35, no. 9, pp. 1172-1176.

  10. Pierson, J.F., Simons, K.J. (1983). "Dropping Electrode Studies of the Electrodeposition of Copper from Acid Sulfate Solutions". Journal of the Electrochemical Society, vol. 130, no. 9, pp. 1824-1831.

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