Despite their energy-efficient merits as promising light-weight structural materials, magnesium (Mg) based alloys suffer from inadequate corrosion resistance. One primary reason is that the native surface film on Mg formed in air mainly consists of Mg(OH)2 and MgO, which is porous and unprotective, especially in humid environments. Here, we demonstrate an environmentally benign method to grow a protective film on the surface of Mg/Mg alloy samples at room temperature, via a direct reaction of already-existing surface film with excited CO2. Moreover, for samples that have been corroded obviously on surface, the corrosion products can be converted directly to create a new protective surface. Mechanical tests show that compared with untreated samples, the protective layer can elevate the yield stress, suppress plastic instability and prolong compressive strains without peeling off from the metal surface. This environmentally friendly surface treatment method is promising to protect Mg alloys, including those already-corroded on the surface.
The authors show the live crystallization of MgCO3 nanocrystals.