DFT calculations of initial localized corrosion of aluminum

Influence of aqueous ad-layer, chloride ions, and intermetallic particles

Time: Fri 2019-12-13 10.00

Location: Lecture Hall K1, Teknikringen 56, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Chemistry

Doctoral student: Min Liu , Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap

Opponent: Ying Chen, Tohoku University, School of Engineering, Fracture and Reliability Research Institute

Supervisor: Professor Jinshan Pan, Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap, Materialvetenskap, Materialvetenskap, Kemi


Localized corrosion of aluminum (Al, here including Al alloys) involves a series of physico-chemical processes at the interface between the metal and the aqueous ad-layer or the aqueous solution. The mechanisms that govern localized corrosion are quite complex and have been the subject of many experimental studies. Efforts to improve our understanding through computational studies have so far been much more limited. The primary aim of this Doctoral Thesis was to apply Density Functional Theory (DFT), together with some Molecular Dynamics calculations (limited effort), to gain a deeper mechanistic understanding of some of the most influential factors for the initiation of localized corrosion of Al: chloride ions, intermetallic particles (IMPs) and the presence of an aqueous ad-layer on the solid phase.In the scientific literature three scenarios have been proposed for the interaction of chloride ions with an aluminum and/or passive aluminum surface: through adsorption onto the passive layer, through breakdown of the same layer or through migration of chloride ions into the layer. DFT-calculations have been able to explore these scenarios in more detail, and provide evidence that chloride ions induce partial de-passivation in several ways. On the bare Al surface, chloride ions may inhibit the re-passivation through competitive adsorption with oxygen molecules, as suggested by density of state calculations. Chloride ions are also found to migrate via oxygen vacancies into the inner part of the investigated aluminum oxide films (α- and γ-Al2O3), where a critical amount of accumulated chloride can promote meta-stable pitting propagation. γ-Al2O3 exhibits a more open structure than α-Al2O3, resulting in a lower energy barrier for chloride migration.Micro-galvanic effects induced by Volta potential differences between representative intermetallic particles (Mg2Si and Al2Cu) and the surrounding Al matrix were predicted by calculating the work function of the bare surfaces of these phases with DFT. These values vary with crystalline face orientation and with terminal atomic configuration in the outmost surface layer. Calculated Volta potential differences between IMPs and Al show a reasonable agreement with reported experimental data, and suggest the possibility of predicting the nobility of specific IMPs relative to Al. Moreover, both DFT and scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy show evidence of electrochemical nobility inversion of Mg2Si versus Al upon adsorption of pure water ad-layers. This implies that an originally- 2 -cathodic Mg2Si phase becomes anodic compared to Al upon water adsorption, and is attributed to surface relaxation according to DFT calculations. With subsequent introduction of chloride ions into the water ad-layer, the nobility inversion of both Mg2Si and Al2Cu retains. This is due to a strong oxidizing effect of water on Al, while the effect of chloride seems less pronounced.In all, these and other examples presented show that DFT-calculations can provide more detailed atomistic and molecular information on physico-chemical processes governing localized corrosion of Al than experiments alone can do.


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Last changed: Nov 21, 2019