Scanning electrochemical cell microscopy: A versatile method for highly localised corrosion related measurements on metal surfaces

Lewis C. Yule, Cameron L. Bentley, Geoff West, Barbara A. Shollock, Patrick R. Unwin

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The development of tools that can probe corrosion related phenomena at the (sub)microscale is recognized to be increasingly important in order to understand the surface structural factors (grain orientation, inclusions etc.) that control the (electro)chemical stability (corrosion susceptibility, pitting, passivity etc.) of metal surfaces. Herein we consider the application of scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM), a relatively new member of the electrochemical droplet cell (EDC) family, for corrosion research and demonstrate the power of this technique for resolving structure and activity at the (sub)microscale. Hundreds of spatially-resolved (2 μm droplet size) potentiodynamic polarization experiments have been carried out on the several hours timescale and correlated to complementary structural information from electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) in order to determine the effect of grain orientation and inclusions on electrochemical processes at low carbon steel in neutral solution (10 mM KNO 3 ). Through this approach, it has been shown unequivocally that for the low index planes, anodic currents in the passive region (an indicator of corrosion susceptibility) are greatest on (101) planes compared to (100) and (111) planes. Furthermore, individual sub-micron MnS inclusions have been probed and shown to undergo active dissolution followed by rapid repassivation. This study demonstrates the high versatility of SECCM and the considerable potential of this technique for addressing structure-activity problems in corrosion and electromaterials science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-88
Number of pages9
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Corrosion
  • Electrochemistry
  • Steel

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