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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 5 Issue 1 (2000) pp 8-13

A Metallic Surface Corrosion Study in Aqueous NaCl Solutions Using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Andrew M. Skolnik, W. Christopher Hughes, and Brian H. Augustine*

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Published online: 1 February 2000

Abstract. We report an upper-division undergraduate solid- state materials chemistry experiment involving the pit and crevice corrosion of a copper surface caused by an aqueous NaCl solution simulating a seawater environment. Surface corrosion of the copper can be shown quite dramatically using atomic force microscopy (AFM) within only hours of exposure to the saline solution. The copper surfaces can also be treated with an alkanethiol solution to form a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) on the surface. When exposed to the salt-water solution, the SAM layer is shown by AFM to protect the surface from corrosion. We have also shown that several different AFM analysis methods are needed to adequately quantify the surface features including roughness and power spectral density. This experiment enables students to not only see how AFM can be used to observe changes in surface morphology, but also learn to develop an understanding of the analysis techniques used to quantify AFM data.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical chemistry; advanced inorganic chemistry; instrumental analysis; upper division; tunnel

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: )

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Issue date: February 1, 2000

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