Investigating the use of MnO2 as an activator for nickel boron electroless deposition of polymeric materials

S.M.J.S. Shourije1,2, A.J. Cobley2, G. Taghavi Pourian Azar2, V. Vitry1

1 Metallurgy Department, University of Mons, Belgium
2 Functional Materials and Chemistry Group, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Electroless deposition of non-active substrates require a critical activation step in which the non-active substrate is activated by using a catalyst. Palladium is widely used as the catalyst for electroless deposition of non-active substrates in different industries but it is a very expensive element and is also hazardous for the environment. Thus, in this work, the potential usage of MnO2 particles as an activator for nickel-boron (Ni-B) electroless plating coating on glass filled-epoxy substrates was investigated as a replacement for palladium. In addition, the effects of different pre-treatment procedures including: HCl, H2SO4, NaOH alkaline solution and mechanical roughening on the final Ni-B produced coating regarding adhesion and also surface coverage have been discussed. The results showed that pre-treatment plays a significant role on the quality of the final coatings as the adhesion and coverage of the substrate were affected by the pre-treatment process. By using H2SO4 as the acid treatment process and MnO2 as the activator, nickel clusters were successfully formed on the rougher areas of the substrate including exposed fibres. This indicated that MnO2 could be used an activator for Ni-B electroless deposition although complete coverage of the substrate was not achieved.