Standard Article

Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy

Electrochemical Techniques

  1. Shigeru Amemiya

Published Online: 18 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com053.pub2

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Amemiya, S. 2012. Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. Characterization of Materials. 1–13.

Author Information

  1. University of Pittsburgh, Department of Chemistry, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAY 2012


In this article, we introduce the principle of scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) and its applications as a powerful electrochemical method for material characterization. The principle of SECM is based on the use of a micrometer- or nanometer-sized ultramicroelectrode as the scanning chemical probe of electrons, ions, and molecules that are transferred across the interface between a target solid material and an electrolyte solution as well as air/liquid and liquid/liquid interfaces and membranes. In comparison to traditional electrochemical methods, SECM is much higher in spatial resolution and mass transport to find its advantages in the chemical imaging of a heterogeneously reactive material surface and the quantitative study of interfacial reaction dynamics. The unique capability of imaging an interfacial reactivity renders SECM complementary to other scanning probe microscopy techniques and also combinable with them to yield multidimensional images of the material surface. In this article, various operation modes of SECM are introduced and followed by examples of practical measurements based on imaging, approach curve, voltammetry, and amperometry. Present limits of the technique in both theory and experiment are briefly discussed. In addition, numerical and analytical approaches to data analysis as well as experimental protocols for tip fabrication and characterization are described.


  • scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM);
  • ultramicroelectrode (UME);
  • chemical imaging;
  • interface;
  • heterogeneous electron transfer;
  • electrode material;
  • nanomaterial