A new technique to protect copper from corrosion

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New
Delhi, October 10: Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi,
have developed a new method that promises to protect copper, which is one of
the most popular commercial metals, from corrosion in a cost effective manner.

Over the
years, scientists have developed several techniques to combat the problem of
corrosion of copper. However, they are very expensive or highly complex or
provide incomplete protection in acidic media. The new method promises to
overcome these problems.

Researchers
used technique called ‘floating film transfer method’ to obtain ultrathin films
of an organic material, squaraine, and to transfer it over the copper articles
as layers. The anti-corrosion activity was tested in the presence of hydrochloride
using electrochemical techniques as well as surface characterization
techniques. The tests showed that nearly 40% corrosion protection is reached
with just one layer of squaraine and increased up to 98% with four layers.

There are
several ways to protect copper from corrosion, but squaraine has an interesting
chemical structure. It has a hydrophobic functional group at one end, a
hydrophilic functional group at the other end and the two are connected to a
square unit in the middle. This helps it dissolve in both hydrophobic and
hydrophilic solvents and enables it to be drawn out in the form of thin films.
Since metal surfaces are hydrophilic, if squaraine is coated on them, its
hydrophilic end interacts with the metal surface and the hydrophobic end
hangs out in air and thus repelling corrosive molecules.

For
their experiment, the researchers filled a petridish with distilled
water up to three-fourth of its height and the upper water surface was cleaned
multiple times with small strips of lint free tissue to ensure that there
was no contamination. One drop of squarine solution in chloroform was released
over the water surface. A blue circular floating film was formed at the
air-water interface within seconds. The film was then carefully lifted on to a
copper strip and washed gently with a stream of distilled water followed by
vacuum drying. The researchers kept depositing layer after layer and after
adding every layer tested the anti-corrosion behavior of the layer.

“Though
we have used squaraine in this work, we can also use many other cheap materials
coated via floating film transfer method for corrosion prevention,” said team
leader, Prof Rajiv Prakash, while speaking to India Science Wire.

Besides
Dr. Prakash, the team included Rajiv Kumar Pandey, Richa Mishra and Gopalji.
The study results have been published in journal Scientific Reports.

By
Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

(India Science Wire)

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