NEWS | June 27, 2016

Dr. Paul Natishan Receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award

By Daniel Parry

Dr. Paul Natishan, head of the Corrosion Science and Environment Effects Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is bestowed the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for his outstanding performance and record of scientific achievements and contributions made to the Navy in the field of corrosion science and technology.

During his tenure at NRL, Natishan has provided a significant service to the Navy and the nation through an improved scientific understanding of materials in the marine environment. His work in the passivity and passivity breakdown of metals, along with his work in surface modification, has advanced the Navy’s understanding of aluminum and stainless steel materials.

“Dr. Natishan’s breakthroughs in corrosion science have been an immeasurable contribution to the Navy as well as to the world in establishing a more thorough scientific understanding of corrosion phenomena and mitigation measures,” said CAPT Mark Bruington, Commanding Officer, NRL. “As an internationally recognized expert in corrosion science, his contributions and achievements have allowed for conventional materials used in many applications for the Navy — operating continuously in a chlorine-laden environment — to be made more resistant to localized corrosion and degradation.”

Natishan’s contribution to the field of corrosion science began by considering surface charge effects on passive film breakdown and the investigations of the role of chloride ions in these processes. The model of the pH of zero charge for pitting, proposed by Natishan and colleague Dr. Edward McCafferty, explains the first step in the interaction of chloride ions with the oxide film of aluminum that lead to eventual breakdown of the oxide film and pitting corrosion. Later, he and colleague Dr. Willian O’Grady pioneered the use of X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) to observe the presence of chloride ions in the oxide film on aluminum and using K-edge X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) spectra, presented the first evidence that chlorides were present at the aluminum oxide/aluminum interface.

More recently, in 2014, Natishan’s research provided conclusive proof that chlorides were not incorporated into the passive oxide film on stainless steel. Instead, by summarizing his own work, together with literature on chloride incorporation in oxide films on stainless steel or iron chromium alloy and aluminum, he clearly demonstrated that the origin of the oxide breakdown process was fundamentally different for stainless steel versus aluminum.

His analysis, coupled with original experimentation, showed that chloride presence in the passive film was an artifact of experimental procedure and was unrelated to passive film breakdown. This discovery dispelled the conventional scientific school of thought that chloride incorporation into the passive film was the source of passivity breakdown in stainless steel, as had been widely reported previously.

Natishan received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and a Master of Science (1979) and Ph.D. (1984) in materials science and engineering from the University of Virginia. He joined NRL as a research metallurgist in 1985 where he focused research efforts on the use of ion beam surface modification techniques to study and improve the passivity of aluminum and the role of chloride ions in oxide film breakdown. Other ares of research have included para-equilibrium alloying for improved hardness and corrosion resistance; inhibition of microbiologically influenced corrosion; and the production and electrochemical uses of diamond and diamond-coated materials.

Fellow of both the Electrochemical Society (ECS) and the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, he was presented with the ECS Corrosion Division H. H. Uhlig Award for recognized excellence in corrosion research and outstanding technical contributions to the field of corrosion science and technology. As former president of the Electrochemical Society, Natishan joins distinguished and revered predecessors such as H. H. Uhlig, F. LaQue and W. R. Whitney and is frequently called upon by external government executives to advise on complex technical issues such as the high temperature oxidation resistance of nickel (Ni) alloys for the future Ohio class replacement submarine.

He is currently an adjunct full professor at Duke University and the associated editor of the Corrosion TIA for the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, has 102 refereed publications and four book chapters, has given 45 invited presentations, and holds 9 U.S. Patents.