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Enhanced corrosion resistance in metal matrix composites assembled from graphene encapsulated copper nanoflakes

Jin, Baoyin, Xiong, Ding-Bang, Tan, Zhanqiu, Fan, Genlian, Guo, Qiang, Su, Yishi, Li, Zhiqiang, Zhang, Di
Carbon 2019 v.142 pp. 482-490
anisotropy, coatings, copper, copper nanoparticles, corrosion, electrical conductivity, electrochemistry, encapsulation, ferric chloride, graphene, microstructure, protective effect, sodium chloride
Corrosion protection of metals is of great importance due to their widespread use. Graphene (Gr) has shown promising corrosion resistance as a coating for metals, however, its excellent strengthening effect that has been widely shown is suppressed in such coating applications. Here, inspired by positive anti-corrosion role of graphene coating for metal macro-foils, graphene encapsulated Cu (Cu@Gr) micro-/nano-flakes are designed and fabricated, and then used as building blocks for assembling bulk Gr/Cu composites. Thanks to its protective role and strengthening effect of uniformly dispersed graphene in Cu matrix, as compared to bare copper, corrosion rate of the as-fabricated bulk Gr/Cu composites is reduced by 50% in NaCl solution and its yield strength is increased by ∼180% (2.5 vol% Gr) simultaneously, without deterioration on electrical conductivity. The anti-corrosion mechanisms are understood by studying etching behavior of the Cu@Gr flakes in FeCl3 solution, and surface morphology evolution in the samples subjected to salt spray corrosion, and electrochemical corrosion tests. Graphene's anti-corrosion effect is also reflected by an anisotropic corrosion behavior of the Gr/Cu composite because of a “brick-and-mortar” microstructure. The results presented here shed light on expanding metal matrix composite's applications to a wider range and more complex situation by incorporating graphene.