A percolation theory for designing corrosion-resistant alloys

Yusi Xie, Dorota M. Artymowicz, Pietro P. Lopes, Ashlee Aiello, Duo Wang, James L. Hart, Elaf Anber, Mitra L. Taheri, Houlong Zhuang, Roger C. Newman, Karl Sieradzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Iron–chromium and nickel–chromium binary alloys containing sufficient quantities of chromium serve as the prototypical corrosion-resistant metals owing to the presence of a nanometre-thick protective passive oxide film1–8. Should this film be compromised by a scratch or abrasive wear, it reforms with little accompanying metal dissolution, a key criterion for good passive behaviour. This is a principal reason that stainless steels and other chromium-containing alloys are used in critical applications ranging from biomedical implants to nuclear reactor components9,10. Unravelling the compositional dependence of this electrochemical behaviour is a long-standing unanswered question in corrosion science. Herein, we develop a percolation theory of alloy passivation based on two-dimensional to three-dimensional crossover effects that accounts for selective dissolution and the quantity of metal dissolved during the initial stage of passive film formation. We validate this theory both experimentally and by kinetic Monte Carlo simulation. Our results reveal a path forward for the design of corrosion-resistant metallic alloys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-793
Number of pages5
JournalNature Materials
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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