Electroplated Nickel Composites with Micron- to Nano-Sized Particles
Electroplated nickel coatings provide ductility, excellent corrosion resistance and good wear resistance, which qualifies them to meet complex demands of engineering, microtechnology and microelectronics. The co-deposition of particles is a promising alternative to deposit layers with adequate microstructure and properties avoiding the rise of residual stress. The incorporation of the sufficient quantity of particles, monodisperse distribution and downsizing to nanometre scale affect the amount of strengthening by dispersion hardening. To avoid agglomeration in the electroplating bath as well as in the layer is a challenge which has been met by simple Watts nickel electrolyte with a minimum of organic additives and adequate bath agitation comprising sonication, i.e. the exposure of the bath to high-frequency sound waves. Well-dispersed hard particles (titanium oxide and silicon carbide) were incorporated in nickel films. The focus was set on the correlation between the gained microstructure of the composites with particles from micron to nanometre scale and the electrochemical and mechanical properties. Corrosion was quantified from polarisation curves and volumetric erosion measurements. Wear resistance was evaluated by scratch energy density studies, oscillating sliding wear testing and cavitation wear testing and compared to indentation hardness results. Sonication and particle downsizing result in matrix grain refinement and dispersion hardening. Incorporation of different particles with respect to different material and size proved to meet different demands. Submicron TiO2 is best for high corrosion resistance, sonicated nickel without particle incorporation is best for high abrasion resistance, nano TiO2 is best for oscillating sliding wear resistance and submicron SiC is best for cavitation wear resistance.
Nahed El Mahallawy and Mingxing Zhang
B. Wielage et al., "Electroplated Nickel Composites with Micron- to Nano-Sized Particles", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 384, pp. 283-309, 2008