Investigations of reconstruction of passivation layer on stainless steel surface using AFM-based techniques


M. Błaszczyk, M. Durko, Z. Iwanicka, P. Lochyński, A. Sikora, Investigations of reconstruction of passivation layer on stainless steel surface using AFM-based techniques, Materials Science- Poland 36 (3), (2018) 381-386. doi:10.2478/msp-2018-0066
Błaszczyk M., Durko M., Iwanicka Z., Lochyński P., Sikora A.,
AbstractContinuous development of stainless steel technology forced by the increase in the growing demands on the operating parameters of various stainless steel alloys, is the motivation for implementation of research for understanding the complexity of electrochemical processes ongoing on the surface of a material during various technological processes and during exploitation of the finished components. In this paper, the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) is presented as a tool for observation of reconstruction process of passivation layers on the surface of previously electropolished stainless steel. For this purpose, a technique called nanoscratching was used, in which scratches are made on the surface of a material by means of diamond scanning probe, which violates the continuity of the passivation layer. Then, the dynamics of the process of reconstruction of that layer was assessed using continuous imaging of the scratched area in AFM semicontact mode. Studies of this type can be used to evaluate the impact of various factors on the spontaneous reconstruction of the passivation layer as well as possible susceptibility of the material on the course of corrosion processes initiated as a result of mechanical defects arising during operation of the material. By using the AFM, it was possible to observe changes in the depth of scratches with a subnanometer resolution. Obtained results proved that the presented AFM application allowed observation of the dynamics of passivation layer reconstruction process in a quantitative fashion, therefore it seems to be a very useful tool in the investigation of the impact of various conditions on this phenomenon. The results showed that changes in surface modification were occurring in a continuous manner. Changing dynamics of said process was presented. It should be underlined that no such experiments have been reported so far.





The Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy

Institute of Environmental Engineering

Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences

pl. Grunwaldzki 24,
50-363 Wrocław

Project assumptions

The overall goal of the project is to develop an innovative multifactor mathematical model enabling monitoring of bath contamination used in the electropolishing process of austenitic stainless steels. This model will allow optimization and reduction of process costs and will have an impact on reducing environmental pollution during electrolytic polishing of austenitic stainless steels.

The final outcome of the project will consist in the development of a method of monitoring the gradual contamination of the electropolishing bath.


The team deals with research in the field of electrochemistry, wastewater treatment, monitoring and optimization of processes in laboratory and industrial conditions. The diverse experience of individual members of the IonsMonit team is its strength.



Project: “A pioneering model for monitoring pollution of electropolishing process baths (IonsMonit)” financed by the National Center for Research and Development as part of the Lider programme.