Corrosion Inhibitors

The corrosion of metals plays an important role in industry due to its high economic impact (annual global cost over US$2.5 trillion) and its prevention has therefore attracted a great deal of research efforts. One very efficient and highly versatile way to protect metal surfaces is through the use of organic corrosion inhibitors which form self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) acting as physical and chemical barriers against corrosion and dissolution. Their effectiveness intimately depends on microscopic properties such as molecular adsorption, orientation and chemical state. However, these are often poorly known, and the precise anti-corrosion mechanisms are still debated, with a clear and fully evidence-supported atomic and molecular scale picture still being missing.

Our aim is to gain a deep understanding of organic corrosion inhibitors based on strong experimental and theoretical evidence. We do so by investigating simple model systems that however contain all the essential ingredients. We analyse these systems by applying a surface science analytical approach that integrates multiple complementary techniques for assessing their structural, electronic and chemical properties. This experimental work is supported by collaboration with theoretical colleagues who study the same systems by means of ab-initio quantum chemistry computational methods.

In this perspective, the study of organic corrosion inhibitors for copper is particularly interesting because of the close link between the results obtained from our model system and the actual industrial problem, that also involves small organic molecules and a simple elemental metal. Additionally, the initial stages of copper corrosion predominantly manifest as surface-related phenomena. At the same time, the protection of copper is extremely relevant because of its extensive application in metallurgical sectors, electrical power and electronics industries, automotive manufacturing (especially in electric vehicles) and telecommunications.

Structural transitions of benzotriazole (BTAH) deposited on Cu(110) as a function of molecular coverage [2.]

Key publications:

  1. Adsorption of the prototypical organic corrosion inhibitor benzotriazole on the Cu(100) surface
    M. Turano, M. Walker, F. Grillo, C. Gattinoni, G. Hunt, P. Kirkman, N.V. Richardson, C.J. Baddeley, and G. Costantini
    Corr. Sci. 207, 110589 (2022).
  2. Understanding the Interaction of Organic Corrosion Inhibitors with Copper at the Molecular Scale: Benzotriazole on Cu(110)
    M. Turano, M. Walker, F. Grillo, C. Gattinoni, J. Edmondson, O. Adesida, G. Hunt, P. Kirkman, N.V. Richardson, C.J. Baddeley, A. Michaelides, G. Costantini
    Appl. Surf. Sci. 570, 151206 (2021).


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