When we say that the electrode potential for $\ce{Co}^2$$^+$/$\ce{Co}$ is -0.28 V and $\ce{Cu}^2$$^+$/$\ce{Cu}$ +0.337 V, what is the physical meaning?

Can you conceptually explain when two electrons react with $\ce{Cu}^2$ or $\ce{Co}^2$to form the metal, what happens and what is the source of these different potentials?

  • $\begingroup$ It compares with the standard hydrogen electrode. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_hydrogen_electrode $\endgroup$ – t.c Oct 16 '14 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @t.c I know that, but what is the physical meaning of the potential. I know that it is presented in reference to something. How the potential of this electron transfer is different between Co and Cu, and what makes this difference. $\endgroup$ – jimyy Oct 16 '14 at 13:12

The potential difference between two electrodes represents the voltage that is generated between the two electrodes that will allow the transfer of current/electrons. Physically it's basically a measure of how strongly one electrode attract electrons over the other which leads to the flow of current.

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