Effect of pulsed current on the electrodeposition of chromium and copper
This research was concerned with the effects of pulsed current on the electrodeposition of chromium and copper. In the case of the latter metal, a novel application has been studied and a theory proposed for the ability to improve throwing power by the joint use of organic additives and pulsed reverse current. During the course of the research, several improvements were made to the pulse plating unit.Chromium. A study was made of the effect of square wave pulsed current on various physical properties of deposits from three hard chromium plating electrolytes. The effect of varying frequency at a duty cycle of 50% on the mean bulk internal stress, visual appearance, hardness, crack characteristics and surface topography of the electrodeposits was determined. X-ray diffraction techniques were used to study the phases present in the deposits. The effect of varying frequency on the cathodic efficiencies of the electrolytes was also determined. It was found that pulsed current reduced the internal stress of deposits from the sulphate catalysed electrolyte. It also reduced or eliminated cracking of deposits and reduced deposit brightness. Under certain conditions, pulsed current was found to induce the co-deposition of hydrides of chromium. Deposit hardness was found to be reduced by the use of pulsed current. Cathodic efficiencies of the high efficiency electrolytes were reduced by use of pulsed current although this effect was minimised at high frequencies. The sulphate catalysed electrolyte showed an increase in efficiency over the frequency range where hydrides were co-deposited.Copper. The polarisation behaviour of acid copper solutions containing polyethers, sulphopropyl sulphides and chloride ions was studied using both direct and pulse reverse current. The effect of these additives on the rest potentials of copper deposits immersed in the electrolyte was also studied. Hole Throwing Power on printed circuit boards was determined using a specially designed test cell. The effect of pulsed reverse current on the hole throwing power of commercially produced printed circuit boards was also studied. Polyethers were found to have an inhibiting effect on the deposition of copper whereas the sulphopropyl sulphides produced a stimulating (i.e. depolarising) effect. Studies of rest potentials made when both additives were present indicated that the sulphopropyl sulphide was preferentially adsorbed. The use of pulsed reverse current in solutions containing both polyether and sulphopropyl sulphide was found to cause desorption of the sulphopropyl sulphide at the cathode surface. Thus, at higher current densities, the inhibiting effect of the polyether produced an increase in the cathodic polarisation potential. At lower current densities, the depolarisation effect of the sulphopropyl sulphide could still occur. On printed circuit boards, this effect was found to produce an increase in the `hole throwing power' due to depolarisation of the holes relative to the surface of the boards. Typically, using direct current, hole/surface thickness ratios of 40% were obtained when plating 0.6 mm holes in a 3.2 mm thick board at a current density of 3 A/dm2 whereas using pulsed reverse current, ratios of 80% could be obtained at an equivalent rate of deposition. This was observed both in laboratory tests and on commercially plated boards.