Gold Plating Method Without the Use of Toxic Cyanide Compounds

Shin Horiuchi (Senior Research Scientist) and Yukimichi Nakao (former Senior Research Scientist), the Research Group for Nanoscientific Measurements (Leader: Junichi Murakami), the Nanotechnology Research Institute (Director: Nobutsugu Minami) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have developed a novel cyan-free electroless gold plating reaction providing excellent adhesion to various plastic materials.

Au electroless plated polyester fabric (left) and polyimide film (right).

Electroless plating is one of the important technologies in industry. It has been introduced in the production processes for electronic devices (print circuit boards, etc.), automobile parts (hubcaps and steering wheels, etc.), and office equipments, etc. as a metal coating and deposition techniques of insulating material such as plastic and complex shaped products. Gold plated films have attractive features in terms of its excellent electrical conductivity, low contact resistance, corrosion resistance, solderability, abrasion resistance, and light reflection. Conventional electroless gold plating, however, requires the use gold cyanide, causing problems related to the management of toxic substances and environmental pollution. Also, complicated pre-processing is necessary to achieve high adhesion to base substrate.

After the discover of a novel cyan-free electroless gold plating reaction two years ago, we have been improving this method to achieve high adhesion and first deposition at room temperature by introducing an originally developed platinum colloid catalyst system.

Details of this research are to be announced at the 57th Symposium on Macromolecules held at Osaka Prefecture University on September 26, 2008. Moreover, the method will be demonstrated as "Applications of Colloidal Metals" at the AIST Open Lab held at AIST Tsukuba on October 20 and 21, 2008.

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