Reactive molecular dynamics of the initial oxidation stages of Ni(111) in pure water: Effect of an applied electric field

O. Assowe, O. Politano, V. Vignal, P. Arnoux, B. Diawara, O. Verners, A. C.T. Van Duin

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Corrosion processes occurring in aqueous solutions are critically dependent upon the interaction between the metal electrode and the solvent. In this work, the interaction of a nickel substrate with water molecules has been investigated using reactive force field (ReaxFF) molecular dynamics simulations. This approach was originally developed by van Duin and co-workers to study hydrocarbon chemistry and the catalytic properties of organic compounds. To our knowledge, this method has not previously been used to study the corrosion of nickel. In this work, we studied the interaction of 480 molecules of water (ρ = 0.99 g•cm-3) with Ni(111) surfaces at 300 K. The results showed that a water "bilayer" was adsorbed on the nickel surface. In the absence of an applied electric field, no dissociation of water was observed. However, the nickel atoms at the surface were charged positively, whereas the first water layer was charged negatively, indicating the formation of an electric double layer. To study the corrosion of nickel in pure water, we introduced an external electric field between the metal and the solution. The electric field intensity varied between 10 and 20 MeV/cm. The presence of this electric field led to oxidation of the metal surface. The structural and morphological differences associated with the growth of this oxide film in the presence of the electric field were evaluated. The simulated atomic trajectories were used to analyze the atomic displacement during the reactive process. The growth of the oxide scale on the nickel surface was primarily due to the movement of anions toward the interior of the metal substrate and the migration of nickel toward the free surface. We found that increasing the electric field intensity sped up the corrosion of nickel. The results also showed that the oxide film thickness increased linearly with increasing electric field intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11796-11805
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 6 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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