We have studied the anodic dissolution (electropolishing) of various stainless steel alloys in an ionic liquid comprising a 2 : 1 stoichiometric mix of ethylene glycol (EG) and choline chloride. We have used a combination of electrochemical and spectroscopic methods together with in situ liquid probe microscopy. We discuss the role and influence of the surface oxide passivation layer, characterized here by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and linear sweep voltammetry, on the polishing process. We address the question of dealloying during the polish in order to contribute to our understanding of the viability of the ionic liquid as a replacement industrial electropolishing medium; the current commercial process uses a corrosive mixture of phosphoric and sulfuric acids. Also, we present data from ex situ and in situ liquid AFM studies giving both a qualitative and quantitative insight into the nature and scale of morphological changes at the steel surface during the polishing process.Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio
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