Gold Plating is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal, most often copper,brass,steel by chemical or electrochemical plating. This article covers plating methods used in the modern electronics industry; for more traditional methods, often used for much larger objects.
The anodic oxide structure originates from the aluminum substrate and is composed entirely of aluminum oxide. This aluminum oxide is not applied to the surface like paint or plating, but is fully integrated with the underlying aluminum substrate, so it cannot chip or peel. It has a highly ordered, porous structure that allows for secondary processes such as coloring and sealing.
Anodizing (also spelled anodising, particularly in the UK, India and Australia) is an electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts.
Gold Plating Types :
There are several types of gold plating used in the electronics industry
Soft, pure gold plating is used in the semiconductor industry. The gold layer is easily soldered and wire bonded. Its Knoop hardness ranges between 60-85. The plating baths have to be kept free of contamination.
Bright hard gold on contacts, with Knoop hardness between 120-300 and purity of 99.7-99.9% gold. Often contains a small amount of nickel and/or cobalt; these elements interfere with die bonding, therefore the plating baths cannot be used for semiconductors.
Bright hard gold on printed circuit board tabs is deposited using lower concentration of gold in the baths. Usually contains nickel and/or cobalt as well. Edge connectors are often made by controlled-depth immersion of only the edge of the boards.
Soft, pure gold is deposited from special electrolytes. Entire printed circuit boards can be plated. This technology can be used for depositing layers suitable for wire bonding.
Gold-plated electrical connectors
Gold plating is often used in electronics, to provide a corrosion-resistant electrically conductive layer on copper, typically in electrical connectors and printed circuit boards. With direct gold-on-copper plating, the copper atoms tend to diffuse through the gold layer, causing tarnishing of its surface and formation of an oxide and/or sulphide layer.
A layer of a suitable barrier metal, usually nickel, is often deposited on the copper substrate before the gold plating. The layer of nickel provides mechanical backing for the gold layer, improving its wear resistance. It also reduces the impact of pores present in the gold layer. Both the nickel and gold layers can be plated by electrolytic or electroless processes. There are many factors to consider in selection of either electrolytic or electroless plating methods. These include what the deposit will be used for, configuration of the part, materials compatibility and cost of processing. In different applications, electrolytic or electroless plating can have cost advantages.