Elemental concentration profiles in the near surface region of 304 stainless steel resulting from hot-band annealing have been investigated with scanning transmission electron microscopy-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry. A severe cr depletion in the top 100 nm of the steel surface was observed, and a ni enrichment was preset at depths less than 1 um. The maximum cr depletion depth, which was approximated by an error function relationship, was in excellent agreement with the cr depletion depth maximum determined experimentally. The oxide-alloy interfacial cr concentration projected from the parabolic depletion profile of the 304 stainless steel at depths greater than 400 nm was also in reasonable agreement with the calculated value. The oxide-metal interfacial (within 50 nm) cr concentration determined experimentally was, however, substantially lower than the calculated values. Doping effects on the oxide defect structure were proposed to enhance the diffusive flux from the alloy surface region and to contribute to nonparabolic growth effects of the cr depletion profile in this region during short-term annealing.
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