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Publication numberUS3900599 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 19, 1975
Filing dateJul 2, 1973
Priority dateJul 2, 1973
Publication numberUS 3900599 A, US 3900599A, US-A-3900599, US3900599 A, US3900599A
InventorsFeldstein Nathan
Original AssigneeRca Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of electroless plating
US 3900599 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 [111 3,900,599

Feldstein Aug. 19, 1975 METHOD OF ELECTROLESS PLATING Primary E.\'aminer.l0hn D. Welsh l t Nth Fldt ,K d'llP'k,N.. [75] nven or a an e S em en d at J Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Glenn l-l. Bruestle; William [73] Assignee: RCA Corporation, New York, NY. 5, Hill [22] Filed: July 2, 1973 Appl. No.: 375,380

US. Cl. 427/97; 427/290; 427/300 lnt. CL C23C 3/00; B44D 1/02 Field of Search 117/227, 47 A, 130 E References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS l/l958 Metheny et al. 117/130 E 10 Claims, N0 Drawings METHOD OF ELECTROLESS PLATING BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION So-called electroless or autocatalytic plating baths usually contain a salt of the metal being deposited, a reducing agent for the metal salt, a chelating or complexing agent and a pH adjustor. If the surface of the object being plated is not one which is already catalytic for the deposition of the metal, a film of a suitable catalyst must be deposited on the surface before it is subjected to the plating bath. And, if the surface is on a body made of a substance such as a glass or a plastic, which is usually not capable of causing nuclei of the catalyst to deposit thereon, the surface must first be properly treated so that it will be receptive to the catalyst.

In the present state of the art, two procedures for sensitizing and catalyzing are widely used. One of these is immersion in an acidic stannous chloride solution followed by immersion in an acidic palladium chloride solution. The second method is immersion in a solution composed of palladium chloride and excess acidic stannous chloride, followed by an immersion in an accelerator solution.

During the plating operation, the plating bath is usually agitated to keep the composition of the bath uniform and to dislodge hydrogen bubbles that tend to form on the surface of the object being plated. Agitation is often carried out by bubbling air through the bath. It has been believed that the presence of oxygen improves bath stability.

However, in making printed circuits by an additive process which includes depositing copper electrolessly on a coated phenolic laminate which contains many through-holes, it has been found that many plating skips occur around the edges of the holes especially when the bath is freshly prepared. Such a product is not acceptable. It has now been determined that the defective plating is due to the presence of dissolved oxygen which is normally present when the bath has been standing exposed to air. The oxygen concentration present in a bath that has been exposed to air for some time will be referred to as the equilibrium concentration. It would be of advantage to have a simple and economical way to modify the plating bath or the process of using it so that the number of plating skips which occur due to dissolved oxygen is either considerably reduced or entirely eliminated.

The present method is an improved process of using freshly prepared or other electroless copper or other metal electroless plating baths containing considerable dissolved oxygen, that eliminates electroless plating skips on catalytic substrates. The improvement comprises reducing the oxygen content whichmay be pres ent in the bath when it is first made up, or when it has been standing unused for a period preferably by removing it with nitrogen or other non-oxidizing gas which is inert with respect to the catalyst and to the plating solu tion.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The invention will be described in connection with manufacturing printed circuit boards by a process that includes both electroless plating and subsequent electro-deposition, but the present invention is of significance only with respect to the electroless plating step.

It should be understood that the invention is not limited to use of the substrates mentioned in the following examples, nor is it limited to any specific electroless plating composition. The substrate may be an epoxyfiberglass laminate, for example, glass, ceramic or a synthetic resin of any type.

EXAMPLE 1 Phenolic laminate boares are given an adhesive coating of uncured thermosetting synthetic resin and the coated surface is etched, sensitized and activated as described in US. Pat. No. 3,704,208. The adhesive coating composition may be a polyvinyl butyral phenolic mixture such as Pittsburgh Plate Glass Companys E- 835, for example.

After application of the resinous coating composition, the coated panel is air dried and heated in an oven at about 300 F for 4-6 minutes to drive off the solvents and any free moisture.

After the panel has cooled, it is punched or drilled in accordance with the desired through hole configuration. In the present example, each panel is drilled with 180 holes. Alternatively, the holes may be formed before the coating is applied.

Next, the panel is passed through a cold water spray and abraded on both surfaces by rotating brushes. After the abrading step, the panel is given another cold water spray rinse.

After the coated panel is abraded, it is spray etched with a solution containing about 10% by volume of nitric acid and about 5% by volume of hydrochloric acid, in deionized water. The spraying temperature is about F and the spraying time is about 2 minutes. At the conclusion of the etching treatment, the panel is rinsed in hot water.

Next, the panel is treated with a strong oxidizing conditioner which may be of the chromic acid type such as Enthones Enplate 470, which has had its activity raised by additions of chromium trioxide or a metal chromate. Following treatment with the conditioner, the panel is thoroughly rinsed.

After the oxidizing treatment, the panel is treated with a sensitizer solution. Although the sensitizer may be of conventional type such as stannous chloride acidified with hydrochloric acid, it is preferred that the following solution be used.

SnCl 0.13 molar HCl 0.47 molar SnCl (Aged) 6.5 X 10 molar NaCl 3.0 molar The SnCL, is added from a 0.5 molar stock solution which was prior aged for about 1 week at room temperature. The aging process improves the wetting properties of the sensitizer solution and increases the density of the catalytic sites. A more complete description of the SnCl, aging process is formed in US. Pat. No. 3,666,527 issued May 30, 1972. A description of how the SnCL, is believed to be modified by the aging process can be found in an article entitled Some Aspects of the Chemistry of Tin Sensitizing Solutions, Feldstein et al, J. Electrochem. Soc., Vol. 119, p. 1482 (1972). The sodium chloride increases both the wettability and the stability of the solution.

PDTA Na (Propylenediamine 0.072 molar tetraacetic acid, the tetrasodium salt) CuSO .5I-I O 15 g/liter HCl-IO 20 ml/liter CH OH 40 ml/liter NaOH 8 g/liter NaCN 6 ppm TMN" a nonionic wetting agent 3 mg/liter (manufactured by Union Carbide) Temperature of the bath is 22 C.

Before the bath is used, nitrogen or other inert gas is bubbled through it at a rate of 2 cu. ft./hour (using 15 gallons of solution) for at least 30 minutes. The gas is bubbled throughout the entire volume of the solution.

This removes a large proportion of the oxygen content of the bath. Besides nitrogen, some other suitable gases are argon, helium, neon and hydrogen.

The treated panel is then immersed in the plating bath for 10 minutes so that a thin continuous layer of copper deposits on both faces, including the through holes.

In order to compare the effect on the electroless plating process of a bath saturated with nitrogen with a bath having an equilibrium concentration of oxygen dissolved therein, 4 pairs of panels were plated. The oxygen content of the oxygen-containing bath was that due to normal exposure of the surface of the bath to air. One panel of each pair was plated in the above bath which had not had nitrogen bubbled through it and which therefore had considerable oxygen present due to dissolved air. The other member of each pair was plated in the same bath which had nitrogen bubbled throughout for 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. The four panels which were plated in the bath with no nitrogen treatment had plating skips (around the through holes) of from to 22 per panel. Since there were 180 holes in each panel, this meant that from 8.3 to 12% of the through hole areas were improperly plated. In contrast, the panels that were plated in the baths pre-treated with nitrogen gas had no plating skips at all.

Since it is highly desirable that electroless plating baths remain stable over considerable periods of time and since past experience had shown that any modification of an electroless plating bath that reduced the number of plating skips also tended to make the bath unstable, a stability comparison test was run. In this case stability was determined by observing the time it took a plating bath to either become turbid or to plate on the bottom of the container under conditions of accelerated usage. The accelerated test utilized a number of pairs of 2% inch X 3% inch adhesively coated phenolic laminate panels having no through holes. These panels were treated by abrading, conditioning, sensitizing and activating as described above.

The electroless plating bath used was exactly as given above except that the amount of NaOH was 10 g/liter and the bath temperature was 25 C. Two 500 ml portions of this bath were taken. One of these portions was treated by bubbling nitrogen gas throughout it for 1 hour. The other bath portion was given no nitrogen treatment.

To begin the test, one of a first pair of panels was immersed in 400 ml of the nitrogen-treated solution and the other member of the pair was immersed in 400 ml of the untreated solution. Both panels were replaced every 16-17 minutes with fresh panels. To keep the baths in chemical balance, the baths were periodically analyzed for copper sulfate, sodium hydroxide and formaldehyde and replenished as required. In both baths the time that elapsed before the baths began to become turbid was 225 minutes and the time for plating to begin on the bottom of the container was 237 minutes. Thus, it was concluded that pre-treatment of the bath with nitrogen does not affect bath stability.

EXAMPLE 2 Using the same type of coated phenolic laminate panels, the same oxidizing conditioner, the same sensitizer and the same activator, as in Example 1, a number of panels having 180 through holes each were plated in the same freshly prepared electroless plating bath previously described, where the bath was given a 60 minute nitrogen pre-treatment before use. However, some of the panels were plated in a bath which was slightly agitated with air during the plating process and some were plated in a bath that was considerably air agitated. There were a few plating skips on the panels with slight air agitation and many skips on the panels with considerable air agitation. On the panels which were plated with no air agitation, there were no plating skips.

EXAMPLE 3 In order to show the effect of dissolved oxygen content on the ability of an electroless copper bath to produce skip-free plating on phenolic board, the following bath was employed at 20 C:

CuSO,.5H O 15 g/liter PDTA Na (40% solution) 60 ml/liter NaOH 8 g/liter H CO (37%) 4O ml/liter CH Ol-l 40 ml/liter NaCN 6 mg/liter TMN 12 mg/liter Board No. Oxygen Content* Skips Visual Observations l Equilibrium 100% Many large bare concentration areas when the bath is in contact with air 2 85% of equilibrium Very spotty concentration 3 74% of equilibrium about Spotty -Continued -Continued Electroless Plating Bath Board No. Oxygen Content* Skips Visual Observations No. Oxygen Content through holes Remarks 5 concentration 25% D 57% of equilibrium about Some spottiness 1 Equlhbnun. 100 Many large concentration 1% concentration I bare areas 5 28% of equilibrium about Good coverage 2 34% of eqlnhbnum -50 Few large concentration ff p bare areas 6 14% of equilibrium 0% Good coverage 3 5% equlhbiwm 0 Good concentration 1 0 conceml'atlon coverage As measured using galvanic-type dissolved oxygen probe made by Precision Scientific.

EXAMPLE 6 The adverse effect of dissolved oxygen in freshly prepared electroless plating baths decreases as the ac- Electroless Plating Bath tivity of the bath increases. Activity of a bath can be increased by raising the temperature of operation or in- NiSO .6H O 25 g/liter creasing the concentration of bath ingredients such as 32 1- 2 50 l i t 1 It th d t H t. NI-LOH 15 ml/liter e me a Sa- 91' e re uclng agen OWeYel', as ac 1V- Dimethylanine borane Q25 g/liter ity of a bath is increased, the bath becomes increasingly it i n unstable, therefore, s I ecessary to compromise on Board Skips around the various factors associated with these baths and it Oxygen content through holes Remarks usually proves to be most advantageous to sacrifice some degree of activity in favor of increased stability. 1 Many bare areas concentration In order to show what effect (if any) changes in con- 2 53% of equilibrium -75 Few bare areas centration of the various reagents and changes in reaff i 3 5% equilibrium 0 Good coverage gents have on plating results obtained using the present Concentration method, the following examples are presented.

EXAMPLE 4 EXAMPLE 7 Electroless Plating Bath Electroless Plating Bath CuSO .5H O 15 g/liter PDTA Na, 40% solution) 60 ml/liter NiSO .6H O 25 g/liter 8 gflfter Na P- O ioi-i o 50 g/liter HZCO (37%) 20 ml/l ter NH4OH l5 ml/liter NaCN 24 "Hz NaH PO .H O 10 g/liter Board skips around Phenolic laminate boards provided with through 40 Na Oxygen Content through holes Remarks holes and an adhesive coating and pre-treated as described above were plated for 3 minutes. Except for 1 Equllibziuifl y 1 concen ra lOIl covera e Board No. l (the control) nitrogen gas was bubbled 2 40% f equilibrium Small E throughout the plating bath prior to the plating step to concen ration areas 1 th t t d. t d b l 45 3 3% of equilibrium 0 Good ower e oxygen con en as in ma e e ow. 7 concentration coverage Board skips around Although in all of these baths, the oxygen content No. Oxygen Content through holes Remarks was lowered after the bath was prepared, it can also be 5O removed from the water prior to mixing in the other inl Equilibnum -lOO Many bare areas gradients.

concentration 2 63% ofequilibrium -25 Few bare areas If a bath stands around for a time after it has been concentration 6 r d an d X n i 3 3% of equilibrium 0 Good coverage pr pa e d e o yge ated, t should be tested for ox concentration ygen content ust prior to use to determine whether or not the oxygen content has risen to such an extent that plating quality may be affected.

1 claim: EXAMPLE 5 1 1. In a process of electrolessly depositing a metal on a surface which is catalytic for the deposition of said Electroless Plating Bath metal by immersing the surface to be plated in a plating bath, where the bath has sufficient dissolved oxygen gaigf 'ig a 5 33 therein to cause plating skips, the improvement comtetmceuc acid (EDTA) prising lowering the dissolved oxygen content substan- 10 give P of tially prior to starting the plating operation. NaCN 24 mg/liter "2C0 (37%) 20 mmite, 2. A process according to claim 1 in which the ob ect to be plated is a phenolic laminate board and in which Board Skips around the process includes toughening and etching a surface of the object to be plated and then depositing a film of said catalyst thereon.

3. A process according to claim 2 in which said phenolic laminate board has many through holes therein.

4. A process according to claim 2 in which said catalyst is palladium.

5. A process according to claim 1 in which the metal being deposited is copper.

6. A process according to claim 1 in which the metal being deposited is nickel.

7. A process according to claim 1 in which said dissolved oxygen content is lowered by bubbling throughout the bath a gas which is inert with respect to the catalyst.

8. A process according to claim 7 in which said inert gas is nitrogen.

9. In a process of electrolessly depositing a metal on a surface which is catalytic for the deposition of said metal, comprising preparing an electroless plating bath by dissolving a salt of said metal and a reducing agent in water,


immersing said surface in said plating bath,

the improvement comprising removing at least most of the dissolved oxygen in the water used to prepare said bath prior to adding said salt and said reducing agent.

10. In a process for electrolessly depositing a uniform coating of a metal onto a surface which is catalytic for the deposition of said metal by immersing said surface in a plating bath, the improvement which comprises removing dissolved oxygen gas from said plating bath by passing a stream of inert gas through said bath prior to plating.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2819188 *May 18, 1954Jan 7, 1958Gen Am TransportProcesses of chemical nickel plating
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4152467 *Mar 10, 1978May 1, 1979International Business Machines CorporationElectroless copper plating process with dissolved oxygen maintained in bath
US4525390 *Mar 9, 1984Jun 25, 1985International Business Machines CorporationDeposition of copper from electroless plating compositions
US4853320 *Nov 2, 1987Aug 1, 1989U.S. Philips CorporationMethod of locally providing metal on a surface of a substrate
US4904506 *Jan 20, 1987Feb 27, 1990International Business Machines CorporationCopper deposition from electroless plating bath
US4967690 *Apr 12, 1990Nov 6, 1990International Business Machines CorporationElectroless plating with bi-level control of dissolved oxygen, with specific location of chemical maintenance means
US6265075Jul 20, 1999Jul 24, 2001International Business Machines CorporationCircuitized semiconductor structure and method for producing such
US6468672Jun 29, 2000Oct 22, 2002Lacks Enterprises, Inc.Decorative chrome electroplate on plastics
US7297210 *Oct 15, 2002Nov 20, 2007Ebara CorporationPlating apparatus
US7465358 *Mar 5, 2004Dec 16, 2008Applied Materials, Inc.Measurement techniques for controlling aspects of a electroless deposition process
US7794530Dec 22, 2006Sep 14, 2010Lam Research CorporationElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
US7988774Aug 10, 2010Aug 2, 2011Lam Research CorporationElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
US20040194698 *Oct 15, 2002Oct 7, 2004Akihisa HongoPlating apparatus
US20050084615 *Mar 5, 2004Apr 21, 2005Applied Materials, Inc.Measurement techniques for controlling aspects of a electroless deposition process
US20080152822 *Dec 22, 2006Jun 26, 2008Algirdas VaskelisElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
US20080175986 *Jan 24, 2007Jul 24, 2008Kenneth CrouseSecond surface metallization
US20100304562 *Aug 10, 2010Dec 2, 2010Lam Research CorporationElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
CN104878371A *Jun 30, 2015Sep 2, 2015长沙理工大学Electroless copper plating method for carbon fibers
EP0308011A1 *Sep 7, 1988Mar 22, 1989Philips Electronics N.V.Method of locally providing metal on a surface of a substrate
WO2008085256A2 *Dec 12, 2007Jul 17, 2008Lam Research CorporationElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
WO2008085256A3 *Dec 12, 2007Dec 24, 2008Lam Res CorpElectroless deposition of cobalt alloys
U.S. Classification427/97.7, 427/290, 427/99.5, 427/306
International ClassificationH05K3/18, C23C18/16
Cooperative ClassificationC23C18/16, H05K3/187
European ClassificationC23C18/16, H05K3/18B3