Transpassive dissolution of Cr and sputter-Deposited Cr oxides studied by in situ X-ray near-edge spectroscopy

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The kinetics and mechanism of transpassive dissolution of thin, sputter-deposited Cr2O3 films and passivated Cr were studied with in situ x-ray near-edge spectroscopy in 1 M H2SO4, borate buffer (pH 8.4), and 1 M NaOH. The onset potentials of the transpassive dissolution and the plateau potentials during galvanostatic oxidation and their pH dependence are very similar for passive Cr and sputter-deposited Cr2O3 films and indicate that the mechanism of transpassive dissolution of Cr can be experimentally modeled with Cr2O3. X-ray near-edge spectroscopy spectra acquired during anodic potential steps reveal that, prior to transpassive dissolution, Cr(VI) is trapped in the Cr2O3 film. There is no evidence of formation of intermediate Cr(IV); it appears that Cr2O3 is directly oxidized to CrO4 2- (or Cr2O7 2- in acidic solutions). X-ray near-edge spectroscopy measurements made during galvanostatic oxidation/dissolution show that the reaction Cr2O3 → CrO4 2- (or Cr2O7 2-) takes place with a 100% current efficiency over the whole pH range (1 to 13). The results suggest that the transpassive dissolution of metallic chromium is a two-stage process Cr → Cr2O3 → CrO4 2- (Cr2O7 2-), with a faster kinetics of the first step; hence, the thermodynamics and kinetics of the transpassive dissolution of Cr are completely determined by the surface oxide. The significance of present findings for other experimental techniques and possible consequences for the corrosion resistance of stainless steels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3997-4005
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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