I have just managed to understand the difference between oxidation and reduction. So basically if A oxidises B, then B loses electrons, right? But what does this formulation mean: "A is oxidized on B"? What is this "on" suppose to mean? That A is losing electrons to B or vice-versa?

Sorry if this sounds like a very stupid question, but I'm really confused by presence of "on something"

EDIT: If you search for this

"Carbonate-based electrolytes commonly used in Li-ion batteries are reduced on negative electrodes"

on Google, you will find the first paper and this specific formulation.

And here you can find the paper: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jpclett.5b01727?journalCode=jpclcd

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    $\begingroup$ I've never heard such a phrase before. I would assume it is a typo. Any more context? What is A and B? || And if A oxidises B, then B is the one that is being oxidised; B is the one that undergoes oxidation, or gains electrons. So you have it the wrong way round. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2017 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ I have added the source. Thank you for the answer! $\endgroup$
    – Physther
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Wait, what? B undergoes oxidation means it gains electrons? Isn't oxidation the process where a compound loses electrons? Did I get also this one wrong? I'm looking at this: ict4us.com/r.kuijt/en_oxidation_reduction.htm $\endgroup$
    – Physther
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Google does not give the same search results for the same search terms for everyone. They return results based on your location (guessed from your ip address) and other things they know about you based on their tracking cookies. For example, my search did not turn up the reference that you sited. I would just use the actual link rather than giving instructions for a google search. Just my 2 cents on that. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, if A oxidises B, then B loses electrons. However in your question body you wrote that "A loses electrons to B" which is the wrong way round. In this case, the preposition "on" indicates the place at which the electrolyte is being reduced, which is the negative electrode. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2017 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


This answer is a summary of the string of very good comments to the OP's original set of short questions. This is both my take on the questions and an attempt to produce a more readable "net" answer than those contained within the set of individual comments.

Regardless of the intended context, "A is oxidized on B" means that A looses electrons. It's seems this context likely implies that B is an electrode surface "on" which A is being oxidized.

Regardless of context, if A is oxidized by B, then B is reduced.

If B is an electrode surface, then the electrons from A needn't reduce B itself, but could flow through that part of the cell (the anode).

I hope this (correctly!) answers each of the OP's questions.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for you answer. Just to make it clear. This formulation: Carbonate-based electrolytes commonly used in Li-ion batteries are reduced on negative electrodes means that the electrolyte gains electrons, right? $\endgroup$
    – Physther
    Jan 24, 2017 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ Correct as stated. All that maters is ...electrolytes...are reduced... And that makes your statement correct. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Jan 24, 2017 at 11:38

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