Textbooks on electrochemistry are due for an update with the results of a recent study of fuel cells measuring the ion activity around an electrode in a salt solution . There is a classical 100-year-old theory that describes what is thought to be the distribution of ions around such an electrode, at the interface with the electrolyte, where the charge of the electrode attracts ions from the solution and forms what is called an electrical double layer—ions of opposite charge from the electrode crowd around its surface, forming a structure of charges at the interfacial layer.
Gaining a more complete understanding of electrochemistry will be salient to important forms of energy storage and production, like those utilizing fuel cells.
Understanding the molecular structure of the electrode–electrolyte interface is essential in elucidating many interfacial electrochemical phenomena such as corrosion, electrocatalysis, and other charge transfer processes. The interfacial structure and composition of the electric double layer should be greatly affected by the electrostatic interactions at the interface induced by surface charging or by adsorbed species, having, for instance, a strong effect on the water structure at the interface.
Ojha, K. Doblhoff-Dier, and M. T. M. Koper, Double-layer structure of the Pt(111)–aqueous electrolyte interface.
At low salt concentrations, there will eventually be an equilibrium point within the electrical double layer in which there are no more ions available in the salt solution to move towards the charged electrodes surface, this layer is called the potential of zero charge— a potential at which the metal surface in contact with a certain electrolyte has zero excess electronic (free) charge. The classical theory predicts the formation of a potential of zero charge in the electrical double layer at specific low salt concentrations, however the measurements from the recent experiment where unable to find this zero-charge layer where the theory said it should exist.
The problem: there were many more ions in the solution than what theory says should be there. The researchers had to lower the salt concentration 10-fold from the calculated values—that should have shown a point of zero charge—before it was observable. The researchers explain that they do not know where the extra ions are coming from, and so current theory of electrochemistry cannot explain what is being observed—obviously, our theory is incomplete.
As physicist Nassim Haramein explained: “It demonstrates that theory is not clear about the nature of electrons and ions and certainly about the nature of charge. Understanding these principles will clearly show that the excess energy thermodynamics is conserved from the vacuum fluctuations.”
The source of charge, and therefore a fuller description of electrons and ions, is described by Haramein and Dr. Alirol in their latest paper Scale Invariant Unification of Forces, Fields, and Particles in a Quantum Vacuum Plasma (Pre-print abstract available ). The excess energy thermodynamics that Haramein refers to is described by entropy and energy exchange from the quantum vacuum plasma—the vacuum fluctuations—across scale, describing an entropy and energy exchange that is at the source of the properties of organized matter, including charge and the nature of the ion.
New physics like that described by Haramein and Alirol are needed—as the results of the study show that theory requires an update to more closely match reality, and the researchers involved have stated in no uncertain terms that the explanation cannot be chemical in nature—new physics is needed to understand what is going on.
 K. Ojha, K. Doblhoff-Dier, and M. T. M. Koper, “Double-layer structure of the Pt(111)–aqueous electrolyte interface,” PNAS, vol. 119, no. 3, Jan. 2022, doi: 10.1073/pnas.2116016119.
 N. Haramein and O. Alirol, “Scale Invariant Unification of Forces, Fields, and Particles in a Quantum Vacuum Plasma,” Pre-print abstract, Resonance Science Foundation website, accessed 2022-01-25.