Research Highlights | Published:

Materials science

Atom-thick coats for copper

Nature volume 540, page 11 (01 December 2016) | Download Citation

Coating metals with a high-quality, single-atom-thick layer of 2D boron nitride can protect them from corrosion.

Layers of 2D materials have been touted for use as protective coatings on surfaces but have shown mixed results, with some apparently even increasing corrosion rates in the long term.

Zhenguo Huang at the University of Wollongong in Australia and his colleagues used optical microscopes and spectroscopy to study how well films of the insulator boron nitride protect copper from corrosion. They found that copper coated with a high-quality atom-thick film of the material remained almost unaffected by salt water over 1 hour, whereas coating the metal with a multi-layered but cracked film increased corrosion. Such defects probably accelerate oxidation, so coatings could be improved by patching up imperfections and growing films with fewer defects, the authors suggest.

Adv. Mater. (2016)

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