Research on corrosion protection of aluminum has intensified over the past decades due to environmental concerns regarding chromate-based conversion coatings and also the higher material performance requirements in automotive and aviation industries. Phosphonic acid-based organic and organic-inorganic coatings are increasingly investigated as potential replacements of toxic and inefficient surface treatments for aluminum. In this review, we have briefly summarized recent work (since 2000) on pretreatments or coatings based on various phosphonic acids for aluminum and its alloys. Surface characterization methods, the mechanism of bonding of phosphonic acids to aluminum surface, methods for accessing the corrosion behavior of the treated aluminum, and applications have been discussed. There is a clear trend to develop multifunctional phosphonic acids and to produce hybrid organic-inorganic coatings. In most cases, the phosphonic acids are either assembled as a monolayer on the aluminum or incorporated in a coating matrix on top of aluminum, which is either organic or organic-inorganic in nature. Increased corrosion protection has often been observed. However, much work is still needed in terms of their ecological impact and adaptation to the industrially-feasible process for possible commercial exploitation.
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