Phase transitions in alumina films during post-sparking anodising of Al alloys

Etienne Bousser, Aleksey Rogov, Pavel Shashkov, Ali Gholinia, Nicolas Laugel, Thomas J.a. Slater, Philip J. Withers, Allan Matthews, Aleksey Yerokhin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Formation of the high-temperature α-Al2O3 phase during Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation of aluminium at ambient bulk temperatures has been previously attributed to local microdischarge events providing multiple melting-solidification cycles in micro-volumes of the surface oxide layer. In this work, it is demonstrated that the α phase can be formed even if the microdischarge is fully suppressed under specific processing conditions. Oxide layers produced in the post-sparking anodising mode were studied by FIB, TEM, EBSD, EDS and GDOES techniques to reveal microstructural and chemical evolutions that accompany the γ to α alumina transition. Our results provide strong evidence that the α phase can form spontaneously in regions of oxide with the appropriate temperature, grain size and impurity distributions in the γ-Al2O3 matrix that allow sufficient mobility of α/γ grain boundaries. Ionic migration within the oxide and hydrothermal dissolution/precipitation in the associated microporous network that facilitate species mobility at the grain boundaries allow the critical temperature for activation of γ→α transition to be reduced. Overall, it is suggested that oxide layer growth can be considered in terms of a relatively simple Plug Flow Reactor model. This can help predict the phase transition kinetics depending on key processing parameters such as current density and frequency of pulse polarisation, thus enabling optimum control of coating microstructure for specific application requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number118587
JournalActa Materialia
Early online date4 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2022


  • Alpha alumina
  • Phase transition
  • EBSD
  • Grain size
  • Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation
  • Post-sparking anodising
  • Al alloy


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