Nano-Additives Improve the Performance of Electroplated Metals

Topics Covered

Introduction
Why and Where is Silver Used?
Problems with Silver in Industrial Applications
Adding Graphite Microparticles to Silver
Improved Mechanical Stability of Electroplated Silver Using Nanoparticles
The Effect of PlasmaChem's Nano-Additives on Electroplated Silver
Economics of Using Nano-Additives
Nano-Additives for Other Electroplated Metals
About PlasmaChem

Introduction

Silver is a preferred material for many applications and products including switches, contacts, fuses and circuit breakers due to its excellent electrical and thermal conductivity and chemical stability.

Why and Where is Silver Used?

Silver coatings are often used to increase the conductivity and corrosion stability of copper in electrical connectors, switches, circuit boards etc. In electroplating, silver is primarily used in industrial applications, especially for the power generation and distribution equipment. Even in telecom, automotive, jewelry and cutlery silver is widely used as a finishing material.

Problems with Silver in Industrial Applications

The main drawback of silver is its poor mechanical stability and high friction coefficient. Finding a solution to reduce wear and friction is therefore of exceptional interest.

Adding Graphite Microparticles to Silver

In the 1970s industry began to use graphite microparticles as an additive in silver electroplating processes. Graphite lead to a remarkable reduction of friction, though no increase of mechanical stability could be registered.

Improved Mechanical Stability of Electroplated Silver Using Nanoparticles

A few years ago PlasmaChem GmbH developed a new method of increasing mechanical stability of electroplated silver by using nanoparticles as an additive to plating electrolytes. The best results were achieved when specially pretreated detonation nanodiamonds were employed.

The Effect of PlasmaChem's Nano-Additives on Electroplated Silver

PlasmaChem’s nano-additives (DiamoSilb® and AlumoSilb®) lead to the formation of smaller metal crystallites (and a smaller distance between crystallites) during the electroplating process. As a consequence, the elasticity and hardness of the metal increase and friction coefficient decreases. The amount of nanoparticles getting co-deposited with the metal is tiny (below 0.1%), nevertheless, their presence decreases both wear and friction coefficient by 60%. Simultaneously, the electrical conductivity of silver remains unaltered.

By using these novel nano-additives, one can either increase the life-time of the final device, or reduce the thickness of the plating, and therefore the consumption of silver by 2-3 times.

Economics of Using Nano-Additives

The improvement of product quality is usually closely connected with additional investments for the development of new production lines, purchase of equipment and changes of manufacturing logistics. In the case of the nano-additives, no major investments are needed. The nanoparticles suspension should be added directly to the existing electroplating bath. This also allows small and medium sized companies to benefit from this new technology without substantial investments.

Nano-Additives for Other Electroplated Metals

Electroplating additives can be used not only for silver plating. Successful results were achieved also for gold, chromium, nickel, copper, zinc and many other metals. PlasmaChem has launched production of DiamoGold™, DiamoChrom™ and DiamoHard™-N for gold, chromium and nickel electrolytes respectively.

About PlasmaChem

PlasmaChem performs chemical and low temperature plasma modification of nanopowders with the purpose of functionalization of nano-particle's surface assisted by new plasma-chemical methods developed by PlasmaChem for ultra-dispersed materials. This approach leads to a new family of industrial nano-products with improved and tailor-made properties.

Source: PlasmaChem

For more information about this source, please visit PlasmaChem.

Date Added: Apr 18, 2012 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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