Organic molecules have been proposed as promising candidates for electrode protection in acidic electrolytes. The use of tetraphenyl-porphines (H2TPP) as graphite surface-protecting agents in sulphuric acid (H2SO4) is one of the newest. With the aim of unveiling the mechanism of such a protective effect, in this paper we test the stability of a H2TPP thin film immersed in perchloric and phosphoric acid solutions that differently interact with porphyrins. The protective role of H2TPP is tested in the electrochemical potential range where the pristine graphite undergoes an oxidation process that erodes the surface and eventually exfoliate the stratified crystal. The electrochemical analysis is performed in a three-electrode cell, while the surface morphology is monitored ex-situ and in-situ by atomic force microscopy. Electrospray mass analysis is also employed to investigate the presence of H2TPP fragments in the solution. We find that the organic film is not stable in perchloric solution, while it is stable and avoids graphite surface corrosion in phosphoric acid solution. These results provide a rationale for the role played by free-base porphines in graphite protection.
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