Stainless steel SS 410, SS 420, SS 316, DSS 2206 and high-purity chromium (99.99%) were used in this study. These are popular stainless steels with varying chromium contents and different crystal structures. The chemical composition of each type of stainless steel was determined by energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (EDX-8100), and the composition is given in table 1. Chromium was the major alloying element providing corrosion resistance along with molybdenum that provides enhanced pitting resistance while nickel increases the hardenability of the steels.

Chemical composition of test coupons.

To assess contact angle, adhesion and corrosion rates, coupons from each type of stainless steel (10 × 10 × 2 mm) were polished to 1 µm finish. After polishing, the coupons were rinsed with water, degreased with acetone, rinsed with distilled water, immersed in 80% ethanol for 2 h and finally dried in a biohazard cabinet to prevent any bacterial contamination before the experiments.

For electrochemical testing, each stainless steel coupon was mounted in a mould of non-conducting epoxy resin connected to an insulated copper wire to act as a working electrode. For long-term corrosion studies, coupons were immersed for six months. A same set of specimens was prepared for control experiments for electrochemical tests.

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