Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site




Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

MIT: Self-Healing Metal Oxides Provide Corrosion Protection

Thursday, April 5, 2018

More items for Quality Control
More items from North America

Comment | More

Researchers based out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that a solid oxide protective coating for metals can deform as a liquid would, filling gaps and providing corrosion protection.

According to the research, the thin layer of coating could help prevent leakage of tiny molecules that can penetrate through most materials, such as radioactive tritium that forms inside the cores of nuclear power plants.

Corrosion Protection

Ju Li, a professor of nuclear engineering and science at MIT and senior author of the research paper, said that “we were trying to understand why aluminum oxide and silicon dioxide are special oxides that give excellent corrosion resistance.”

In conducting research, the team used instruments to observe the surface of metals coated with these “special” oxides to monitor what happened when they were exposed to an oxygen environment and placed under stress.

Christine Daniloff/Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Researchers based out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that a solid oxide protective coating for metals can deform as a liquid would, filling gaps and providing corrosion protection.

According to MIT, metals under stress from pressure inside a reactor vessel, exposed to superheated steam, can corrode quickly if not protected properly. A solid protective layer may also lead to cracks that allow the oxygen to penetrate to the bare metal.

“We want an oxide that is liquid-like and crack-resistant,” said team leader Yang Yang.

Aluminum oxide seems to be the solution, as it has the desired liquid-like behavior even at room temperature, granted that its applied in a thin enough coating—about 2 to 3 nanometers thick.

Yang noted that the traditional assumption in regard to the oxide is that it’s brittle and subject to cracking. Up until recently, no one had been able to prove otherwise due to difficulty observing the material under realistic conditions. Thanks to the use of a transmission electron microscope (E-TEM), this was made possible.

“For the first time, we’ve observed this at nearly atomic resolution,” said Li.

The analysis revealed that an aluminum oxide layer, when applied thinly, is almost as deformable as a comparably thin layer of aluminum metal. When aluminum oxide is coated onto a bulk piece of aluminum, the liquid-like flow “keeps the aluminum covered," Li noted.

With the help of the E-TEM, researchers demonstrated that aluminum with an oxide coating could be stretched to more than double its length without cracks opening. Even with the stress, the oxide “forms a very uniform conformal layer that protects the surface, with no grain boundaries or cracks,” said Li.

The material is technically a kind of glass, but it behaves like a liquid and can coat the surface as long as it is applied thinly enough.

Application opportunities for the coating are reportedly wide and varied, given the crack-free surface the coating can provide.

The paper was published in the journal Nano Letters, with the research being partially supported by the National Science Foundation.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Quality control; Research and development

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

DeFelsko Corporation
PosiTector SST Soluble Salt Tester
Measures the concentration of soluble salts on metal surfaces. Use with all Bresle patch types including the reusable, adhesive-free PosiPatch.

HoldTight Solutions Inc.
Full Surface Protection for Up to One Year
HT 365 is a preservation, single component, anti-corrosive coating, a water displacing agent, a lubricant, and a penetrating fluid. It creates an imperceptible thin-film coating that offers excellent salt contaminant and humidity protection. Contact your HoldTight® representative or visit for more information.

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office
KTA-Tator EH&S Services
• Ambient & Worker Exposure Air Monitoring
• Safety & Health Program Development
• Lead Paint Assessments
& Specifications
• Health Hazard & Jobsite Safety Assessments
Call 1-800-532-3633

Fischer Technology Inc.
FISCHER Expands Corrosion Product Line
Rounding out Fischer’s extensive line of products for measuring protective coatings in the corrosion industry is the new ultrasonic wall thickness gauge UMP series.

AME/Applied Materials & Engineering, Inc.
Applied Materials & Engineering
Consulting, Forensic Analysis and Testing Services for construction materials including concrete, steel, masonry and wood. Offering Petrographic and FTIR Analysis to identify composition of floor coatings, flashing and sealants, two-part epoxy resins, plastics, paints, colorings, and additives.

SEMicro Division, M.E. Taylor Engineering, Inc.
Stop Guessing the Classification Rating of Your Cross Hatch Adhesion Testing Results
SEMicro's newly-patented Adhesion Testing Analyzer takes the guesswork out of cross hatch tape adhesion testing standards such as ASTM D3359 and ISO 2409.

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings
Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

Modern Safety Techniques
Modern Safety Techniques
With our unique LTCat, we can help to provide clean, safe breathing air to your workers. Take a look at our Breathing Air Systems, we supply at least twice as much charcoal as our competitors! Modern

Jotun Paints Inc.
Jotun Jotachar 1709
Mesh-free passive fire protection epoxy designed to protect against hydrocarbon pool fire scenarios for up to four hours as defined in the ANSI/UL1709 standard.


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us