A study of dynamic nanoscale corrosion initiation events by HS-AFM

Stacy Moore, Robert Burrows, Loren Picco, Tomas Martin, Scott Greenwell, Thomas Scott, Oliver Payton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
307 Downloads (Pure)


Atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are capable of high-resolution mapping of structures and the measurement of mechanical properties at nanometre scales within gaseous, liquid and vacuum environments. The contact mode high-speed AFM (HS-AFM) developed at Bristol Nano Dynamics Ltd. operates at speeds orders of magnitude faster than conventional AFMs, and is capable of capturing multiple frames per second. This allows for direct observation of dynamic events in realtime, with nanometre lateral resolution and subatomic height resolution. HS-AFM is a valuable tool for the imaging of nanoscale corrosion initiation events, such as metastable pitting, grain boundary (GB) dissolution and short crack formation during stress corrosion cracking (SCC). Within this study HS-AFM was combined with SEM and FIB milling to produce a multifaceted picture of localised corrosion events occurring on thermally sensitised AISI 304 stainless steel in an aqueous solution of 1% sodium chloride (NaCl). HS-AFM measurements were performed in situ by imaging within a custom built liquid cell with parallel electrochemical control. The high resolution of the HS-AFM allowed for measurements to be performed at individual reaction sites, i.e. at specific GB carbide surfaces. Topographic maps of the sample surface allowed for accurate measurements of the dimensions of pits formed. Using these measurements it was possible to calculate, and subsequently model, the volumes of metal reacting with respect to time, and so the current densities and ionic fluxes at work. In this manner, the local electrochemistry at nanoscale reaction sites may be reconstructed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalFaraday Discussions
Issue number0
Early online date16 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Mathematics Research Group


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