Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Changsoo Kim

Committee Members

Nidal Abu-Zahra, Woo-Jin Chang, Benjamin C. Church


Corrosion, Density Functional Theory, Magnesium


Magnesium-based (Mg and/or Mg alloys) materials possess many advantageous physicochemical/biological characteristics such as good biocompatibility and similarity of the mechanical properties to the human bone tissue, which renders this material a promising candidate for the biomedical and implant applications. One of the most attractive features of Mg-based materials is the degradability in the physiological environment. With the burst of research on the biodegradable materials for the healthcare device applications, Mg and its alloys attracted a strong attention in the bioengineering field in recent years. However, the major limitation of applying Mg-based materials to biomedical applications is the fast degradation/corrosion rate with regards to the healing process time-span. In the present thesis, an atomistic model employing the density-functional theory (DFT) has been developed to study the hydrolysis process by understanding the influences of commonly used alloying elements (zinc (Zn), calcium (Ca), aluminum (Al), and yttrium (Y)) and the crystallographic orientation of the dissolution surfaces (basal , prism , and pyramidal planes) on the corrosion behavior. These parameters are known to strongly impact the initial hydrolysis phenomena of Mg-based materials. To develop the atomistic computational model, we have implemented the Dmol3 software package in conjunction with PBE (Perdew, Burke and Ernzerhof) correlation energy functional in the GGA (generalized gradient approximation) scheme. Throughout the thesis, we performed three sets of calculations, i) surface energy, ii) dissolution potential, and iii) water adsorption computations, to examine the hydrolysis mechanism and the subsequent corrosion/degradation of Mg/Mg alloys. The total energy changes of various Mg-based systems in different conditions for these surface energies, dissolution behavior, and tendency of the system for adsorbing the water molecule were quantified. The results obtained from the atomistic model showed that these structural/compositional parameters (i.e., different types of alloying elements and surface planes) can considerably impact the stability of surfaces that are in contact with the corrosion media. The dissolution potential change computation predicted that Al can prevent the dissolution of Mg atoms from the surface of Mg-Al systems. In addition, it was found that the trend of water adsorption phenomena with different alloying elements/planes can be well-explained by the stability of corrosion surface.