This animation shows a galvanic cell with a zinc anode and a copper cathode. A voltmeter shows a potential of 1.1 V and electrons are shown flowing from the zinc anode to the copper cathode. You can select four areas of the galvanic cell to view animations of those regions of the cell on a molecular level.

 

1) Zinc electrode

At the zinc electrode, Zn atoms are shown losing two electrons to form Zn2+ ions that enter the solution. Electrons are shown flowing up a wire toward the copper electrode.

 

2) Copper electrode

At the copper electrode, electrons are shown combining with Cu2+ ions in solution to produce copper metal which plates on the electrode.

 

3) Zinc side of the salt bridge

The salt bridge contains a potassium chloride solution. To counterbalance the positive charge build up (due to the formation of Zn2+ ions), negative Cl- ions are shown flowing into the solution containing the Zn electrode.

 

4) Copper side of the salt bridge

The salt bridge contains a potassium chloride solution. To counterbalance the negative charge build up (due to the removal of Cu2+ ions), positive K+ ions are shown flowing into the solution containing the Cu electrode.