Ab initio modeling of the bonding of benzotriazole corrosion inhibitor to reduced and oxidized copper surfaces
The bonding of benzotriazole—an outstanding corrosion inhibitor for copper—on reduced and oxidized copper surfaces is discussed on the basis of density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Calculations reveal that benzotriazole is able to bond with oxide-free and oxidized copper surfaces and on both of them it bonds significantly stronger to coordinatively unsaturated Cu sites. This suggests that benzotriazole is able to passivate the reactive under-coordinated surface sites that are plausible microscopic sites for corrosion attack. Benzotriazole can adsorb in a variety of different forms, yet it forms a strong molecule–surface bond only in deprotonated form. The bonding is even stronger when the deprotonated form is incorporated into organometallic adcomplexes. This is consistent with existing experimental evidence that benzotriazole inhibits corrosion by forming protective organometallic complexes. It is further shown that adsorption of benzotriazole considerably reduces the metal work function, which is a consequence of a large permanent molecular dipole and a properly oriented adsorption structure. It is argued that such a pronounced effect on the work function might be relevant for corrosion inhibition, because it should diminish the anodic corrosion reaction, which is consistent with existing experimental evidence that benzotriazole, although a mixed type inhibitor, predominantly affects the anodic reaction.