I know that many substances have their own standard electrode potential and they can be arranged in he electrochemical series. For example, the standard electrode potential of iron is -0.440V.

Since organic compounds can also undergo redox reactions,like the oxidation of alcohols, I would like to know whether organic compounds have their own standard electrode potentials as well.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, yeah, but this aspect isn't delved all that much, I think. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_electrode_potential_(data_page) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ When you search for values check to what standard the values apply, standard hydrogen electron (SHE) is usually used in tables in chemistry texts , but using the calomel electrode or pH7, as used in biochemistry, are not uncommon. $\endgroup$
    – porphyrin
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ Be aware these potentials are thermodynamic quantities while reactions of organic molecules have often slow kinetics, so there is no chance to measure such potential. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Sep 19, 2023 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ It just requires patience, potentials are measured at zero current draw. Consider the quinhydrone electrode to measure pH. Many quinones have well defined potentials. I have wondered how an EKG works. $\endgroup$
    – jimchmst
    Sep 19, 2023 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Organic compounds equally have their standard electrode potentials, and their determination in solutions (e.g., by cyclic voltammetry, see for example the primer by Elgrishi et al.) is one method to eventually record the gaps between HOMO and LUMO of dyes used in organic electronics (organic solar cells, OLEDs, etc). Beside characterization of a material, it equally represents an entry in organic synthetic electochemistry to substitute otherwise unpractical reaction conditions. The Baran group, for example, developed an e-Birch protocol which (contrasting to the original conditions of a Birch reduction) is easier to manage (no elemental metals, no need to condense molecular ammonia) and to scale because the electric potentials applied can be tuned to the actual needs. An elder essay by Baran hence is titled «Synthetic Organic Electrochemistry: Calling All Engineers».

(1) Elgrishi, N.; Rountree, K. J.; McCarthy, B. D.; Rountree, E. S.; Eisenhart, T. T.; Dempsey, J. L. A Practical Beginner’s Guide to Cyclic Voltammetry. J. Chem. Educ. 2018, 95, 197–206. doi 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00361 (open access).

(2) Peters, B. K.; Rodriguez, K. X.; Reisberg, S. H.; Beil, S. B.; Hickey, D. P.; Kawamata, Y.; Collins, M.; Starr, J.; Chen, L.; Udyavara, S.; Klunder, K.; Gorey, T. J.; Anderson, S. L.; Neurock, M.; Minteer, S. D.; Baran, P. S. Scalable and Safe Synthetic Organic Electroreduction Inspired by Li-Ion Battery Chemistry. Science 2019, 363, 838–845. doi 10.1126/science.aav5606 (entry PubMed).

(3) Hayashi, K.; Griffin, J.; Harper, K. C.; Kawamata, Y.; Baran, P. S. Chemoselective (Hetero)Arene Electroreduction Enabled by Rapid Alternating Polarity. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 5762–5768. doi 10.1021/jacs.2c02102 (entry PubMed.

(4) Yan, M.; Kawamata, Y.; Baran, P. S. Synthetic Organic Electrochemistry: Calling All Engineers. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 4149–4155. doi 10.1002/anie.201707584 (entry PubMed).


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