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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Surface science studies of conversion coatings on 2024-T3 aluminum alloy Akhtar, Anisa Shera


The research in this thesis aims to develop new mechanistic knowledge for coating processes at 2024-Al alloy surfaces, ultimately to aid the design of new protective coatings. Coatings formed by phosphating, chromating, and permanganating were characterized especially by scanning Auger microscopy (SAM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy . The objective was to learn about growth (nm level) as a function of time for different coating baths, as well as a function of lateral position across the different surface microstructural regions, specifically on the μm-sized Al-Cu-Mg and Al-Cu-Fe-Mn particles which are embedded in the alloy matrix . The research characterizes coating thickness, composition, and morphology. The thesis emphasizes learning about the effect of different additives in zinc phosphating baths . It was found that the Ni²⁺ additive has two main roles : first, the rate of increase in local solution pH is limited by the slower kinetics of reactions involving Ni²⁺ compared to Zn²⁺, leading to thinner zinc phosphate (ZPO) coatings when Ni²⁺ is present. Second, most Ni²⁺ deposition occurs during the later stages of the coating process in the form of nickel phosphate and a Ni-Al oxide in the coating pores on the alloy surface, increasing the corrosion resistance. Aluminum fluoride precipitates first during the initial stages of the coating process, followed by aluminum phosphate, zinc oxide, and finally ZPO. When Ni²⁺ is present in the coating solution at 2000 ppm, ZnO predominates in the coating above the A-Cu-Fe-Mn particle while ZPO dominates on the rest of the surface. The Mn²⁺ additive gives a more even coating distribution (compared with Ni²⁺) across the whole surface. The Mn²⁺ -containing ZPO coating is similar to the chromate coating in terms of evenness, while there is more coating deposition at the second-phase particles for permanganate coatings. The oxides on the Al-Cu-Fe-Mn and matrix regions are similar before coating, thereby confirming that a variety of observed differences in ZPO coating characteristics at these regions arise from the different electrochemical characteristics of the underlying metals. Upon exposure to a corrosive solution, the ZPO coating provides more protection to the second-phase particles compared to the matrix.

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