Smart Coating Embedded with pH-Responsive Nanocapsules Containing a Corrosion Inhibiting Agent

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Triethanolamine (TEA), an amine-based corrosion inhibitor, was encapsulated and then embedded into an epoxy coating to provide long-term corrosion protection of aluminum alloy 3003. TEA was encapsulated by means of free-radical polymerization, yielding an average particle size of 450 nm. An applied epoxy coating containing 10 wt % of the nanocapsules successfully protected an artificially defective area for a long period due to TEA adsorption, which resulted in the formation of an inhibiting layer. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy showed an inhibition efficiency surpassing 85% when the metal experienced mild corrosion in its early stages, and the inhibiting layer started to form by local pH level change, which triggered the release of TEA. On the basis of the results of a scanning vibrating electrode technique, the current density of the metal surface in the presence of an encapsulated TEA coating was significantly lower than that of the control coating with no nanocapsules. Optical microscope and scanning electron microscope images revealed that the sample surface that had encapsulated TEA nearby was considerably less stained after 60 days of testing compared with that of the control sample, which indicated that the metal substrate was protected by an inhibiting layer. Elemental analysis performed by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy further confirmed that the metal surface was well preserved, and a remarkably low oxygen content indicated suppressed metal oxidation. The nuclear magnetic resonance spectra also evidenced a successful release of TEA throughout the experimental period. These findings reflected a spontaneous surface repassivation with the help of encapsulated TEA coating.

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ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

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