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Book Review Grundlagen der Elektrochemie. By W. Schmickler

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fossil and renewable raw materials are
carefully weighed in the balance.
The main part of this Dictionary of Renewable Resources lists and explains a
large number of concepts and terms connected with the (sometimes confusing and
diverse) subject. The book is intended to
be of interest to a broad readership. This
includes not only chemists, bioscientists,
and process technologists in industry and
universities, but also others with backgrounds as varied as agriculture, administration, and policy making, who have an
interest in the subject and can benefit
from reading the book.
Under the appropriate headings the
Dictionary explains and discusses renewable resources of both plant and animal
origins, and intermediates made from
these. For the named chemical compounds the book gives information about
their origin and occurrence, extraction,
use, chemical structure, and physical
properties. Chemical reactions are given
under the headings of the individual compounds obtained from the raw materials,
sometimes with equations, and the uses of
the derivatives are explained.
Economic aspects are also covered in
detail, as is evident from the inclusion of
entries such as “Starch, EC market” or
“Starch industry, world”. Data on tonnages produced are also included in many
cases. Each article includes carefully chosen cross-references to related entries, and
in addition there is usually a short list of
literature references. Another nice feature
is that each subject heading is also accompanied by a German and a French translation. However, one needs to know the English term in order to find a particular
The editor has recruited appropriate experts from industry and universities to
write the contributions on the various specialist areas, thus ensuring competence
throughout. This has resulted in a wellbalanced coverage of the different aspects.
It is unfortunate that, in contrast to the
otherwise high standard of the book and
the excellent quality of production, insufficient care has been taken with the structural formulas. The figures are very inconsistent in style, and are even unclear in a
few cases. The large number of errors in
the formula diagrams is especially annoying. In this first edition of the work it
would have been desirable to make the
reader aware of the errors in the formulas,
for example by including an erratum
page. These errors need to be corrected in
a future edition and the formulas should
be redrawn in a uniform style.
Nevertheless, on the whole we can thoroughly recommend the book. It will un1910
doubtedly be a very useful work of reference for many people in industry and
universities who are involved in the area
of renewable raw materials. It will serve as
a rapid source of information on many
different aspects of the subject, which is
not available anywhere else in such a clear
and concise form.
Stefan Kubik, Giinter Wurff
Institut fur Organische
und Makromolekulare Chemie
der Universitat Dusseldorf (Germany)
Exercises in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. By C. Ghiron and R . J: Thomas.
Oxford University Press, Oxford,
1997. 139 pp., hardcover g40.00.ISBN 0-19-855944-5
In this book the authors have collected
together a selection of 82 total and partial
syntheses. These are presented in the form
of reaction schemes which are incomplete,
so that they serve as exercise problems. In
some cases the reader’s task is to propose
suitable reagents and reaction conditions
whereby a desired product can be synthesized, starting from familiar compounds
as educts. In others the situation is reversed, by specifying the reagents and
inviting the reader to name the endproduct. With each synthesis the authors
also include suggestions for points that
could be discussed, and they refer the
reader to recent review articles relating to
the key steps. However, there is an inconsistency in one respect: whereas in their
preface the authors mention retrosynthetic analysis as being an extremely useful
tool for planning a synthesis, they simply
leave it at that, providing no examples. In
a book of exercises such as this, it would
certainly have been appropriate to give a
retrosynthetic analysis before the exercise
itself, thus affording the reader a preliminary overview of the task.
Unfortunately there is no subject index,
which would have made it easier to find
material on a particular topic. An index
would also allow one to make better use of
the well-chosen literature references, so as
to get a quick overview of the latest synthetic methods.
The exercises chosen by the authors are
of a high and demanding standard, and
the syntheses often include a particularly
clever key step, or have some other elegant feature. The synthetic targets chosen
are mainly natural products of widely different kinds, such as steroids, macrolides,
alkaloids, and even taxol. Thus the book
tests and extends the reader’s knowledge
of the areas of heterocyclic chemistry, re-
0 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH, D-69451 Weinheim,
arrangement reactions, organometallic
chemistry, arenes, and even to some extent carbohydrate chemistry.
But the reader will not achieve very
much by merely using this book on its
own, because for didactic reasons the answers to the interesting synthetic exercises
are not included! Instead, as the authors
explain, the reader is referred to the original publications to arrive at a solution, so
that there can be no temptation to cut
short the exercise by simply looking up
the answer. Consequently one must be
prepared to make trips to the library, or
alternatively to refer to textbooks to find
solutions to the simpler problems.
The choice of material and the manner
of presentation are undoubtedly suitable
for use by a wide readership, from advanced students to experienced chemists.
The book could provide exercise material
for use in the weekly synthetic seminars
that are obligatory in many research
groups, or for some other form of group
The book is not intended for private
study. There would be little motivation to
use it in that way, as it does not lend itself
to adaptation from the exercise concept
on which it is based. To benefit fully from
the book one needs a tutor or moderator
who can lead the discussion of the exercises on the basis of a knowledge of the original publications.
Jan-Arne Gewert
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Gottingen (Germany)
Grundlagen der Elektrochemie. By W
Schmickler. Vieweg, Braunschweigl
Wiesbaden, 1996.214 pp., paperback
DM 58.00.-ISBN 3-528-06755-1
The chemical discipline of electrochemistry is of growing importance in many
areas of the fundamental and applied
sciences. Energy production and conversion, sensor technology, materials science,
and many other branches of science and
technology make use of electrochemical
processes and industrial techniques. As in
other analogous situations, the introduction of electrochemistry into these fields
has been accompanied by a diversification
of the discipline itself. With regard to
mechanistic studies, much effort is currently being devoted to investigating the
process of electron transfer at an electrode
and the great variety of associated chemical reactions, including synthetic applications. Another topical area of study is the
role of the electrode-electrolyte interface
in electrochemical processes.
0570-0833/97/3617-1910 $17.50+.50/0
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1991.36, No. 17
The author of this book is mainly concerned with the latter aspect of electrochemistry, the role of surfaces, including
the microscopic characterization of the
phase boundary. According to his view, as
explained in the preface, kinetic studies
have not advanced significantly since the
1970s. One might well disagree with that,
but nevertheless the appearance of a textbook on electrochemistry in German, incorporating modern developments in this
interdisciplinary science, is an event of
great interest.
Schmickler takes as his starting point
the central concept of the thermodynamic
potential and the structure of electrolyte
solutions. He then goes on to discuss the
phase boundary between a metal and the
electrolyte, adsorption (involving a
specific interaction between the electrode
and constituents of the electrolyte), and
electron transfer (treated phenomenologically using the Butler-Volmer kinetic
model and its variants, and “theoretically” on the basis of the Marcus-Hush
kinetic model). The discussion is then
widened to include semiconductor electrodes, and the models are tested against a
number of experimental systems. This is
followed by three chapters dealing with
electrode surface reactions of increasing
complexity: gas evolution, the deposition
or dissolution of metals, multistage reactions, corrosion. The treatment then
moves on to the liquid-liquid interface
and liquid electrodes. By far the most familiar example of the latter is the mercury
drop electrode, which was the subject of
the only Nobel Prize awarded to an electrochemist (Heyrovsky in 1959). The
book ends with a discussion of mass transport at an electrode and the analytical
techniques based on such processes.
From a superficial standpoint it is
pleasing to find here detailed figures that
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Eiigi. 1997,36, No. 17
are clear, informative, and not over-elaborate. The text contains some printing
errors (not many, and mostly confined
to the later chapters), but unfortunately
there are also some vague or inaccurate
statements [examples: “. . . die Reaktion
ist sehr unsymmetrisch” (p. 67); “. . . so
dass der Strom durch ein Maximum
fliesst” (p. 193); the word “langsam”
(slow) to describe a current (p. ISS)].
More seriously, there are occasional errors in symbols, formulas, and equations
which alter the meaning, a shortcoming
that is especially regrettable in a basic
textbook. Sometimes different symbols
are used for the same quantity, for example the concentration in the bulk solution is variously denoted by co or cb.
Schmickler’s approach, which is certainly to be welcomed, is to present even
complex relationships by deriving them
from simple considerations and models.
This enables the reader to understand the
significance of the essential mathematical
“equipment” of electrochemistry, which
older textbooks often treat in a way that
discourages the student. Usually the technique works well (e.g., in Chapter 11 on
the deposition and dissolution of metals),
but occasionally the author takes the process too far. For example, the explanation
of the nonstationary method of cyclicvoltammetry by relating it to the limiting
stationary case would have been better
avoided (and, moreover, the formation of
the peak is not due to the disappearance of
the surface concentration but to a depletion in the diffusion layer and an increase
of this layer’s thickness).
In a basic textbook it is, of course, appropriate to cite only a few key publications, which can then provide a way into
the extensive primary literature. However,
in a book which frequently emphasizes recent developments in electrochemistry, it
Verlag GmbH, D-69451 Weinheim, 1997
is surprising that the references given for
some areas of research that have been
most active in recent years are limited to
very old publications. For example, those
for Chapters 7 (theory of electron transfer
reactions) and 12 (complex reactions) are
all from the 1950s and 1960s, apart from
a 1974 review on normal coordinate analysis.
As explained in the preface, this book is
a considerably revised translation (from
English into German) of the author’s Znterfacial Electrochemistry. It turns out
that in the course of this revision certain
chapters, including some on surface methods, have been omitted, while new sections on mass transport have been added.
Since the author repeatedly emphasizes
the surface aspects of electrochemistry,
which in my view is exactly where the
book’s main strength lies, the reason for
this choice is not altogether clear. It would
have been better to retain the reference to
interfaces in the title of the German version, so as to make it clear that this treatment of the “Grundlagen der Elektrochemie” does not include, for example,
the (also important) subject of electrochemically induced homogeneous reactions. The title as it stands could lead one
to expect more from the book than it actually contains.
Apart from the shortcomings mentioned above (which should certainly be
corrected by the author and the publishers), this is a moderately priced volume
which offers an overview of the important
subject of electrochemistry at interfaces,
and it is suitable not only as an introduction but also for advanced students. In
this respect, I am shure that there is a
demand for such a text book.
Bernd Speiser
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Tubingen (Germany)
0570-0833/97/3617-1911 $17.50+.50/0
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