The field of metalworking is constantly evolving, with researchers pushing the boundaries of what is possible through innovative techniques such as Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion (ShAPE) and friction stir welding. However, as these new methods produce metal components that are lighter, stronger, and more precise than ever before, it becomes critical to understand the performance and properties of the resulting metals and the bonds between them. Corrosion, a process by which metals degrade over time, poses a significant challenge in this regard.

The Need for Advanced Corrosion Analysis

Traditionally, measuring corrosion has been limited to the ‘cook-and-look’ approach, where researchers immerse samples in a medium and observe the corrosion only after it has occurred. This method has major disadvantages as it leaves researchers speculating about the initiation and progression of corrosion. Additionally, current techniques like scanning vibratory electrode and scanning electrochemical cell microscopy have limitations in providing accurate and reliable results due to surface abnormalities and irregularities.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recognized the need for a more effective approach to monitoring corrosion, especially in light of advancements in metalworking techniques. They developed a novel macroscale analysis system called multimodal corrosion analysis, which combines sensors, cameras, electrodes, and a hydrogen collection tube to observe corrosion progress in real time. This approach allows researchers to identify specific initiation sites of corrosion and gain insights into how corrosion propagates in different materials.

Enhancing Precision with Scanning Electrochemical Cell Impedance Microscopy

While multimodal corrosion analysis provides valuable insights into corrosion at a macroscale level, scientists at PNNL have taken it a step further with the development of scanning electrochemical cell impedance microscopy. This technique offers a more precise and reliable way to analyze corrosion, particularly at a microscopic level. By measuring localized electrochemical properties without interference from adjacent regions, researchers can identify weak and strong spots on a surface prone to corrosion and develop mitigation strategies accordingly.

The high level of granularity provided by these advanced corrosion analysis techniques has significant real-world benefits, especially for researchers at PNNL working on lightweight materials and joints for vehicle applications. By acquiring electrochemical responses from various microstructural features, researchers can design high corrosion-resistant structural materials and understand the impact of novel metalworking techniques like friction stir welding on corrosion rates. For instance, in the case of a friction stir scribe bond between magnesium and steel, researchers observed a lower corrosion rate due to the emergence of specific high-resistance pathways at the interface during processing.

The development of multimodal corrosion analysis and scanning electrochemical cell impedance microscopy represents a significant advancement in the field of metal corrosion analysis. By combining diverse modalities in real-time and analyzing corrosion at a microscopic level, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of how corrosion initiates and propagates in materials. These innovative techniques hold great promise for designing corrosion-resistant materials and optimizing metalworking processes for a wide range of applications.


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