Isotopic Tracer Study of Initiation of Porosity in Anodic Alumina Formed in Chromic Acid

Aleksandra Baron-Wiechec*, Guocong Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we focused on the initiation of porosity in the anodic alumina under galvanostatic conditions in chromic acid, using an 18O isotope tracer. The general concept of the initiation and growth of porous anodic oxide films on metals has undergone constant development over many years. A mechanism of viscous flow of the oxide from the barrier layer to the pore walls has recently been proposed. In this work, two types of pre-formed oxide films were analysed: pure Al2O3 formed in chromic acid, and a film containing As ions formed in a sodium arsenate solution. Both were anodized in chromic acid for several different time durations. Both pre-formed films contained the oxygen isotope 18O. The locations and quantities of 18O and As were analysed by means of ion accelerator-based methods supported by transmission electron microscopy. The significant difference observed between the two oxide films is in the 18O distribution following the second step of anodization, when compared with galvanostatic anodization in phosphoric or sulfuric acid reported in previous works. From the current experiment, it is evident that a small amount of As in the pre-formed barrier layer appears to alter the ionic conductivity of the film; thus, somehow, it inhibits the movement of oxygen ions ahead of advancing pores during anodization in chromic acid. However, anodising pure alumina film under these conditions does not enhance oxygen movement within the oxide layer. In addition, the tracer stays in the outer part of the growing porous oxide film. A lower-than-expected value for pure alumina enrichment in 18O in the pre-formed films suggests, indirectly, that the pre-formed film may contain hydrogen species, as well as trapped electrons, since no Cr is detected. This may lead to the presence of space charge distribution, which has a dual effect: it both retards the ejection of Al3+ ions and prevents O2− ions from migrating inward. Thus, the negative- and positive-charge distributions might play a role in the initiation of pores via a flow mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • IBA
  • NRA
  • O tracer
  • aluminium
  • isotopic labelling
  • porous anodic films


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