Dissolution of thin iron oxide films used as models for iron passive films studied by in situ X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy

Sannakaisa Virtanen, Patrik Schmuki*, Alison J. Davenport, Carissima M. Vitus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports results from x-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) studies during polarization of thin sputter-deposited iron oxide films in acidic solutions. The dissolution rate of iron oxides in acidic solutions was found to be strongly increased by the presence of Fe2+ in the oxide. During anodic polarization in acidic solutions, it is found that dissolution is accelerated by chloride anions in comparison with sulfates. In HCl solutions of increasing concentration, not only does the pH decrease, but also the increasing chloride concentration accelerates dissolution. On the other hand, the dissolution rate in sulfuric acid does not depend on the sulfate (bisulfate) concentration. During anodic polarization, the dissolution rate is fairly independent of the potential, except at very high anodic potentials, and the XANES spectra reveal no changes in the average oxide valence during anodic polarization. Thus the dissolution that takes place is mostly chemical rather than electrochemical. During cathodic polarization, the dissolution rate is independent of the anion in the electrolyte. The findings are interpreted in terms of the negative surface charge of n-type oxides at potentials lower than the flatband potential, retarding anion adsorption on the surface. Hence it is suggested that the detrimental role of chloride anions on the stability of iron oxide films is due to a surface complexation effect. The findings and their relevance to the stability of natural passive films on iron surfaces are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-204
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrochemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


Dive into the research topics of 'Dissolution of thin iron oxide films used as models for iron passive films studied by in situ X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this