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Application of AC-SECM in Corrosion Science: Local Visualisation of Inhibitor Films on Active Metals for Corrosion Protection

Authors

  • Maike Pähler,

    1. Analytische Chemie - Elektroanalytik & Sensorik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum (Germany), Fax: (+49) 2343214683
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  • Dr. Juan José Santana,

    1. Department of Physical Chemistry, University of La Laguna, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain), Fax: (+34) 922-318002
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    • On leave from the Department of Process Engineering, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017 Tarifa Gran Canaria, Canary Islands (Spain)

  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schuhmann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Analytische Chemie - Elektroanalytik & Sensorik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum (Germany), Fax: (+49) 2343214683
    • Analytische Chemie - Elektroanalytik & Sensorik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum (Germany), Fax: (+49) 2343214683
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  • Prof. Dr. Ricardo M. Souto

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physical Chemistry, University of La Laguna, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain), Fax: (+34) 922-318002
    • Department of Physical Chemistry, University of La Laguna, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain), Fax: (+34) 922-318002
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  • AC-SECM: alternating-current scanning electrochemical microscopy.

Abstract

The suitability of frequency-dependent alternating-current scanning electrochemical microscopy (4D AC-SECM) for investigation of thin passivating layers covering the surface of corrosion-inhibited metals has been demonstrated. Inhibition of copper corrosion by benzotriazole (BTAH) and methylbenzotriazole (MBTAH), which are effective inhibitors for this metal under many environmental conditions, was investigated. Strong dependencies were found for the AC z-approach curves with both the duration of the inhibitor treatment and the frequency of the AC excitation signal applied in AC-SECM. Both negative and positive feedback behaviours were observed in the AC approach curves for untreated copper and for Cu/BTAH and Cu/MBTAH samples. Negative feedback behaviour occurred in the low-frequency range, whereas a positive feedback effect was observed at higher frequencies. A threshold frequency related to the passage from negative to positive regimes could be determined in each case. The threshold frequency for inhibitor-modified samples was found always to be significantly higher than for the untreated metal, because the inhibitor film provides electrical insulation for the surface. Moreover, the threshold frequency increased with increasing surface coverage by the inhibitor. 4D AC-SECM was successfully applied to visualizing spatially resolved differences in local electrochemical activity between inhibitor-free and inhibitor-covered areas of the sample.

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