Construction and analysis of surface phase diagrams to describe segregation and dissolution behavior of Al and Ca in Mg alloys

J Yang and KBS Kumar and M Todorova and J Neugebauer, PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, 7, 095802 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.7.095802

Segregation and dissolution behavior of Mg alloyed with Ca and Al are studied by performing density functional theory calculations considering an extensive set of surface structures and compositions. Combining ab initio surface science approaches with cluster expansion for ordered surface structures we construct surface phase diagrams for these alloys. We utilize these diagrams to study segregation phenomena and chemical trends for surfaces in contact with a dry environment or with an aqueous electrolyte. We show that the presence of water dramatically impacts the stability and chemical composition of the considered metallic surfaces. We furthermore find that the two alloying elements behave qualitatively different: Whereas Ca strongly segregates to the surface and becomes dissolved upon exposure of the surface to water, Al shows an antisegregation behavior, i.e., it remains in Mg bulk. These findings provide an explanation for the experimentally observed increase/decrease in corrosion rates when alloying Mg with Al/Ca.

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