Correcting Frost Diagram Misconceptions Using Interactive Frost Diagrams

Kaitlyn G. Dutton, Mark C. Lipke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Frost diagrams provide convenient illustrations of the aqueous reduction potentials and thermodynamic tendencies of different oxidation states of an element. Undergraduate textbooks often describe the lowest point on a Frost diagram as the most stable oxidation state of the element, but this interpretation is misleading because the thermodynamic stability of each oxidation state depends on the specific redox conditions in solution (i.e., the potential applied by the environment or an electrode). Further confusion is caused by the widespread use of different, contradictory conventions for labeling the y-axis of these diagrams as either nE° or -nE°, among other possibilities. To aid in clarifying these common points of confusion, we introduce a series of interactive Frost diagrams that illustrate the conditional dependence of the relative stabilities of each oxidation state of an element. We include instructor's notes for using these interactive diagrams and a written activity for students to complete using these diagrams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2578-2583
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 10 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Education


  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrolytic/Galvanic Cells/Potentials
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Misconceptions/Discrepant Events
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate


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