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The Engineering Metals 269

Gold Plating
Gold plating is used both decoratively and for industrial purposes. The latter include
primarily the electronics, communications, and aerospace applications.
Until fairly recent years, although many gold-plating baths were used, the alkaline
cyanide systems predominated, and the most important use for gold plating was
decorative: for jewelry, flatware, hollowware, and similar items. ince the early !"#$s,
the re%uirements of the electronics and communications industries called for thicker
coatings, with greater resistance to wear and corrosion, lower porosity, and greater
hardness. These re%uirements spurred much research and resulted in the development
of new processes, capable of meeting stringent specifications. &n the decorative field
also, improvements have resulted in more ductile systems and ones capable of yielding
deposits of many colors and various karat contents.
'rinted circuits, contacts, and connectors are representative of the items that are
gold-plated for the electrical industry. Gold is used primarily because of its good
electrical contact properties and corrosion resistance. (lthough not so conductive as
silver or copper )resistivity, in ,un-cm* (g, !.#* +u, !."* (u, ,.,-, gold is preferred
because it does not o.idi/e or tarnish to form interfering films which affect contact
resistance and solderability.
Transistor bases and integrated-circuit components are gold-plated for use in the
electronic industry. Gold is used in electronic components because it withstands
corrosion in semiconductor production, is easily soldered and welded, is resistant to
o.idation, is ductile, and has good electrical properties. Gold is one of the few metals
that will not 0poison0 semiconductor materials.
1or aerospace applications, gold has the highest values of infrared emissivity and
reflectivity. This property protects both people and instruments against radiation in
space. +orrosion resistance, again, is another factor.
&n the chemical industry-where the products are valuable enough to justify its use-
the chemical corrosion resistance of gold is used in construction of reactors, which
may be electroformed. &t is used in heat e.changers in condenser tubes for water
desalination.
2ecorative applications are, of course, older and were the original reason for gold
plating of jewelry, watch cases, writing instruments, and the like. 3ith the advent of
more modern gold-plating systems, it is possible to apply the gold, once confined to
mere 0flashes,0 to almost any thickness desired, so that 0goldplated0 need no longer
imply a product that 0was the first thing to turn green in the spring.04 &ntricate shapes
that could not be handled by mechanical means can be electroplated. (ppearance and
corrosion protection are the main considerations in decorative gold plating* appearance
includes color, since by minor modifications it is possible to produce a large number of
colors to suit the taste of the customer.
*" (be 5artin,0 a popular humorist of the early twentieth century.
278 Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
nation from these sources. 6lectrolytic decomposition will always occur and cannot be
entirely prevented. +arbon treatment removes most, but not ail. organics. The carbon
will absorb some gold )!$ to !# percent of its weight- and therefore should be
preserved and refined for its gold content.
1or control purposes, Hull cell tests are very useful if the gold content of the bath is
high enough* for baths very low in gold, the test itself changes the composition of the
bath so much that the test is not helpful. &n such cases the bent-cathode test will tell
the e.perienced operator much about the condition of the bath.
Decorative Applications
+olor gold 0flash0 coatings are defined as coatings less than $., p.m thick, and are
usually used as a finish over base metals or gold-filled items to impart a specific color
to them. (lmost all decorative flash coating is carried out in cyanide baths with very
low metal content and various combinations of metallic additives, depending on the
color desired. 7perating characteristics are similar: temperature about 8$9+, current
density about :$$ Alm2, ;.# to !# g<= free cyanide, .and stainless steel anodes.
5etallic additives yield various colors* for e.ample, a ,>-k color is obtained from a
pure gold cyanide bath of conventional composition* if a pale-yellow gold )so-called
?amilton- is wanted, nickel and copper cyanides are added* silver gives a green gold*
copper and nickel, in different proportions, yield a 0green0 gold, etc. +admium may
be used to increase the green shade. (nti%ue-gold effects are attained by adding lead,
cadmium, or both to the bath. 7ther alloying elements sometimes used include
antimony and indium.
2ecorative gold plating is also performed to greater thicknesses, up to >$ p.m, for
such items as watch cases that are subject to considerable abrasive wear. The deposit
should not only possess the desired appearance, but also be ductile, hard enough to
resist scratching, and pure enough to resist tarnishing. 2eposit purity is usually in the
range of !8 to !@ k. 'rocesses for this type of plating are almost entirely proprietary.
5ost decorative gold plating remains in the category of art rather than science, and
depends to a large e.tent on the e.perience of the operator.
Thicknesses
1or many applications in industry, physical properties such as hardness, ductility. and
solderability are important. These properties will be specified by the purchaser, and
vendors offer solutions emphasi/ing one or another. &n additionA, various thicknesses
of gold are considered appropriate for varying uses. They may be summari/ed as
follows:
1or flash decorative coatings: $.$, to $., t-tm
7n contacts and connectors for solderability: $., to $.;# p.m
The Engineering Metals 279
7n contacts and connectors for solderability and weldability: $.;# to
1.25 [Lm
+ontacts and printed circuits for etch resistance and solderability: !.,# to
,.# [Lm
tandard coating for engineering and decorative use where increased
abrasion resistance is re%uired: ,.# to # [Lm
6.ceptional resistance to corrosion and wear by handling: # to ;.# [Lm
6lectron emission characteristics: !,.# to :@ [Lm
6lectroforming: :@ [Lm and up
"Spot" plating
Because of the high price of gold, the industry is finding ways of 0selective plating0 or
0spot plating,0 i.e., putting the gold only where actually needed instead of over the
whole part. 1or e.ample, instead of plating a complete contact pin, only the end where
the gold is functional is plated. These efforts constitute a continuing research program
with large consumers.
SPECIFICATIOS
There are many military and other governmental specifications covering gold
deposits, as well as intracompany documents. (T5 designation B >@@, covering
gold coatings for engineering uses, may be summari/ed as representative.
Gold coatings covered contain at least "#.$ percent gold* they are usually used for
their corrosion resistance, nontarnishing characteristics, low and stable contact
resistance, solderability, or thermal reflectivity. +oating characteristics considered are
)!- purity, ),- hardness, and ):- thickness. 2epending on projected use, these three
variables are important for proper performance of the coating.
?ardness and purity are interrelated. The hardness of gold coatings used for
engineering purposes falls into four ranges, which for convenience are identified by
letters, as follows:
Letter code Knoop hardness range
( "$ or less
B "!-!,"
+ !:$-,$$
2 over ,$$
I
280 Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
The relationship between purity and hardness is shown as follows:
Purity )C gold) Hardness code
""." min. only
"".#-"".@ (, B, or +
"#.$-"".> B, +, or 2
uggested purity and hardness for specific applications are as follows:
emiconductor components, nuclear engineering: coatings of ""." percent
purity, code ( hardness* or "".@ percent purity, code (, B, or + hardness, to
any thickness.
3ire-wrap connections: "".# percent purity or higher, code ( hardness, any
thickness.
olderabi lity: coatings of any listed purity, although higher-purity deposits are
more desirable since o.idation of some codeposited D metals could interfere with
solderability. Thickness should generally not e.ceed !.: ).tm, since there is some
evidence that thicker coatings may lead to formation of brittle joints with tin-lead
solders. )Gold is readily soluble in molten tin, and some of the alloys are brittle.-
'rinted-circuit boards: Boards that are to be sheared or cropped should not be
plated with heavy thicknesses of hard gold because of
the possibility of delamination. +oatings with purities of "".$ to "".; percent
are used at hardnesses B or +, and at thicknesses usuaUy not more than ,.#
).tm.
tatic separable connectors: (ny combination of purity and hardness is used,
depending on specific re%uirements. Thicknesses up to about # ).tm are
general.
1or these applications, which are usually over copper or copper alloys, the usual
recommended procedures for preparation of the substrate should be applied* some copper
alloys, such as those containing more than !$ percent /inc, ! percent beryllium, , percent
tellurium, or ! percent lead present special problems, and undercoatings such as nickel may
be used to prevent diffusion into the final gold coating. ilver is not recommended as an
undercoating* copper may be used in some cases. &n any case, a gold strike, as already
described, should be used preceding the final gold coating.
270 Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
GO!D"P!ATI G S#STE$S
'racticaliy all the systems for plating gold, for either decorative or industrial purposes,
are based on cyanide baths* the gold)&&&- chloride solution, used in refining, has had
occasional application for decorative purposes but is little used and according to most
authorities has little to recommend it. 7nly the cyanide systems will be considered
here. ome e.ceptions, such as sulfite comple. baths, have been introduced, but it is
too early to predict their commercial acceptance.
upplying materials and systems for gold plating is a highly proprietary and fiercely
competitive field. 7ne vendor offers no less than ,; different solutions, yielding gold
deposits of varying purity and physical and chemical properties, appropriate for
various applications* and other suppliers offer similar assortments. ince it is not
possible to comment here on the comparative virtues of proprietaries, only some
general principles can be discussed. &t is possible for finishers to formulate their own
solutions from published sources, but few do.
Gold)&- cyanide systems all contain the cyanide comple. (u)+E-, -* the systems
fall into three categories: alkaline, neutral, and acid. Unlike other cyanide-comple.
solutions, the gold cyanide comple. is stable under acid conditions, down to a p? of
about :* but this unusual property was not made use of until about the rnid-!"#$s. (ll
other cyanide-plating baths must be maintained at an alkaline p?, since if the solutions
become acid, the cyanide comple.es are decomposed and poisonous hydrocyanic acid
is liberated. (s noted previously, however, the compound cyanoauric)&- acid
?(u)+E-, can be isolated as a stable and identifiable material.
Gold-plating baths have been classified in various ways. 1our distinct types are
recogni/ed, but according to some authorities two or more of these may be merely
subclasses of the same type. Three are built around baths containing sodium, or more
fre%uently potassium gold)&- cyanide. They are the unbuffered alkaline cyanides
operated in a p? range of @.# to !:, a neutral buffered system operated at p? 8 to @.#,
and an acid buffered system operated at p? : to 8. The fourth system is a noncyanide
type, where the gold is comple.ed by agents other than cyanide. (ccording to some,
however, the distinction between neutral and acid buffered systems is based on history
rather than on any real difference in basic chemistry, and the neutral and acid cyanide
types are lumped together as 0buffered0 systems. The -alkaline cyanide bath is clearly
different, in that it contains a %uantity of free uncomple.ed cyanide ion.
The source of gold in ali systems is gold)&- cyanide, (u+E, which is commercially
available in three forms: gold cyanide itself, sodium gold cyanide Ea(u)+E-,, and
potassium gold cyanide F(u)+E-,A The last-named is most commonly used: unlike
(u+E, it is water-soluble, and it is much more so than the sodium salt. The fact that
potassium salts are somewhat more e.pensive than their sodium counterparts is
insignificant in the case of an e.pensive metal like gold.
'otassium gold cyanide Gor potassium cyanoaurate)&-H provides the ion (u)+E-, -,
a very stable comple.. 1ew free (uI ions are present in the solution,
The Engineering Metals 27!
and as with other metal cyanide comple.es, it is believed that deposition takes place
directly from the comple. ion, although studies on mechanism have not provided any
firm answers to the kinetics involved.
7ther compounds present in gold-plating baths fall into three principal categories:
cUlTent-carrying species, buffers, and brighteners. The last category includes both
metallic ions and organic compounds.
Basis-metal preparation for gold plating is conventional in the sense that the
substrate must be clean and free of o.ides and other materials that might hinder good
adhesion of the deposit. 1or gold plating, all substrates re%uire a gold strike before the
main deposit )see later-. Because of the value of gold, a stagnant rinse is essential to
recover the gold dragged out of the plating bath.
6ach type of bath has its advantages and disadvantages. The alkaline bath, p? " to
!:, possesses good throwing power and is less liable to codeposition of basemetal
impurities in the bath.
The neutral bath, p? 8 to @, permits alloy formation via codeposition of base
metals. &ts neutral p? causes little or no attack on delicate substrates.
The acid baths, p? : to 8, permit alloy formation via base-metal codeposition, and
like the neutral bath do not attack delicate substrates. They can produce the purest gold
deposits available.
(ll the baths can be used for both rack-plating and barrel plating. The choice
depends on the functional re%uirements of the gold coating and the substrate upon
which it is deposited.
&n preparing all gold-plating solutions, it is good practice to dissolve all the
components e.cept the gold salts and brighteners and to filter the solution through
activated carbon to purify it. Gold salts and brighteners are then added.
Alkaline C%anide
This system is historically the oldest. The gold is in solution as Au(CN)z ion, at a
concentration of about @.: giL of gold. The solution contains e.cess cyanide and
operates at a p? above @.# and at a cathode current efficiency approaching !$$
percent. These baths can deposit either pure gold or alloys containing silver, nickel,
copper, and cobalt* which alter the color and physical properties of the deposit. The
structure of the gold is columnar* the deposits contain appreciable amounts of carbon,
the ource of which has been the subject of considerable research and is not entirely
clear as yet. (t lower p? the cyanide baths give deposits containing a dark polymeric
derivative of cyanogen, +,E,, or a partially hydroly/ed polyhydrocyanic acid,
originating at the anode. &n some formulations phosphate is added to ensure against a
drop in p? at the anode. Thickness for thickness, alkaline cyanide systems yield
deposits much more porous than those from the newer buffered acid or neutral
systems. 2eposits from alkaline cyanide systems are useful for most applications,
e.cept for sliding electrical contacts, where they tend to gall and fail %uickly. The
alkaline system is very tolerant of impurities and changes of composition before the
%uality of deposits begins to suffer.
272 Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
The alkaline cyanide baths have e.cellent throwing power, but the alkalinity and
high cyanide content may limit the types of substrates that can be handled. +eramic
and plastic substrates may be attacked.
Typical formulations of alkaline baths are listed in Table !:-8. 'lating conditions
can vary widely* the lower the temperature, the lower the current density permissible.
'otassium gold cyanide is the source of the gold metal content. (dditional
potassium cyanide stabili/es the comple., retards codeposition of base metals, and
tends to minimi/e the tendency for immersion deposition. &t promotes anode corrosion
when gold anodes are used and increases conductivity and throwing power.
'otassium carbonate increases conductivity and improves throwing power* but if it
is allowed to increase too much, the effect on throwing power is reversed. 'otassium
phosphate has similar fUnctions and also acts as a p? buffer. 'otassium hydro.ide
increases conductivity and retards the anodic decomposition of cyanide ion. &t is
necessary to maintain the solubility of some types of organic and inorganic
brighteners.
3ithout brighteners, this bath produces sound but mat deposits. Brighteners, almost
always proprietary, promote grain refinement* most codeposit with the gold. 5etallic
brighteners will codeposit and affect not only the appearance but also the hardness of
the deposit. 7rganic brighteners mayor may not codeposit, and mayor may not affect
hardness. (ll brighteners tend to reduce the density of the deposits.
Ta&le !:-8 Alkaline Gold 'aths
Mat finish Bright finish
lngredient giL Molarity giL Molarity
'otassium gold cyanide, F(u)+Ek :-!;.# $.$!-$.$8 8-,:.# $.$,-$.$@
)Gold as metal- ,-!, $.$!-$.$8 >-8 $.$,-$.$@
'otassium cyanide, F+E !#-># $.,:-$.8" !#-"$ $.,:-!.>
'otassium carbonate, F2+$" $-># $-$.:: $-:$ $-$.,,
'otassium phosphate, F,?'$> $-># $-$.,8 $-># $-$.,8
'otassium hydro.ide, F7? !$-:$ $.!@-$:#: !$-:$ $.!@-$.#:
Brightener $ JJ $.!-!$ JJ
Temperature,7+ #$-;$ H#-,#
+urrent density, Nm
2
!$-#$ :$-!#$
(nodes 't, ,t (u 't,
p? !!-!: "-!:
(gitation moderate rapid
1iltration intermittent continuous
A8@ percent (u )in theory 8@.:; percent-.
ttai nless steel.
The Engineering Metals 27"
Ta&le ()"* eutral Gold 'aths
Mat finish Bright finish
ngredient giL Nlolarity giL Molarity
'otassium gold cyanide, F(u)+E-, 8-,:.# $.$,-$.$@ :-!# $.$!-$.$#
)Gold as metal- >-!8 $.$,-$.$@ ,-!$ $.$!-$.$#
'otassium phosphate, KH!P0" $-"$ $-$.88 $-"$ $-$.88
+helates !#-"$ J #$-!#$
J
Brighteners $ $.!-:$ JJ
Temperature, 9+ ,#- ;$ :#-8$
+urrent density, Alm
2
,$-!$$ #$-,$$
(nodes 't, , 't<Ti 't, , 'tf&Ai
p? K@ K@
(gitation moderate rapid
1iltration continuous continuous
Gold anodes can be used, but recent practice favors platini/ed titanium or stainless
steel anodes.
'+FFE,ED S#STE$S
These may be further divided into neutral and acid electrolytes. The deposits from
these baths, which are much more recent developments than the alkaline cyanide,
e.hibit a wider range of properties than is obtainable from the alkaline system. Lust as
in the alkaline baths, the gold is present as (u)+E-/ - ion, which is stable at a p? as
low as :.$ Gnote that the free acid ?(u)+E-, can be isolated, as mentioned
previouslyH. 2eposits from these baths may be pure or may contain codeposited metal.
The alloy baths usually operate around p? >, while pure gold deposits are obtained
from baths in the ranges around > or ;. The fle.ibility in operating p? allows the use
of photoresist materials superior to those possible with the alkaline system, which
attacks many such materials.
eutral 'aths
Typical formulations for neutral baths are listed in Table !:-;. Eo free cyanide is
added, because in the p5 range of 8 to @ where these baths operate free cyanide is
unstable. Eeutral gold baths readily permit alloy deposits because of the absence of
free cyanide, which tends to discourage alloy deposition. They show little attack on
plastic or ceramic substrates.
Eeutral gold baths, without brighteners, can produce pure mat gold deposits or
alloyed deposits which may be semibright to bright. 1or the unbrightened baths,
27# Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
cathode efficiencies are in the range of "# to !$$ percent* for bright baths much lower,
about ,$ to #$ percent.
(s before, the gold content of the bath is provided by potassium gold cyanide.
'otassium phosphate acts as a buffer, as well as increasing conductivity and improving
throwing power. +helating agents )proprietary or undisclosed- retard the deposition of
metallic impurities that may be present, and are necessary for proper action of the
brighteners. 5etallic brighteners result in alloy deposits of increased hardness. (ll
brighteners reduce the density of the deposit.
Gold anodes are not used in neutral baths because they are inert. The gold content is
usually replenished by the addition of potassium gold cyanide. 3ith use, the p? tends
to rise and is maintained by the addition of dilute phosphoric acid. &f necessary to raise
the p?, ,$C potassium hydro.ide solution may be used.
(nodes are typically pLatini/ed titanium or gold-plated platini/ed titanium.
The gold plating is inert, but it does tend to keep the voltage down. tainless steel
anodes introduce contamination, as do carbon anodes, and their use is not
recommended. Baths for pure goLd deposits often show cathode efficiencies of about
!$$ percent. The efficiency falls significantly if the bath becomes contaminated with
iron or other transition metals. (s little as $.! percent iron in the deposit may cause the
cathode efficiency to drop to @$ percent, and the deposit will have a poor appearance
and high porosity and stress.
"$
Acid 'aths
Typical formulations are listed in Table !:-@. The acid gold systems are the latest
addition to the repertory of the gold plater* it re%uired some years for the reali/ation
that 0cyanide baths must be maintained on the alkaline side0 was not true of gold
solutions. &n some ways, acid gold baths are the most versatile. They may be
formulated to produce either mat or bright deposits. The latter facilitate codeposition
of many base metals with the gold to any practical thickness, with a wide variety of
colors, ranging from pale yellow to deep orange to light violet.
The acid baths do not attack delicate substrates like ceramics and plastics. The bath
formulated for a mat finish can produce the purest gold deposits commercially
obtainable* purity of ""."""I percent has been claimed, with a density practically
theoretical.
'lating conditions vary widely, depending on the result desired. 1or the matfinish
systems, cathode efficiency approaches !$$ percent* for bright systems it is only about
,# to :# percent.
&n use, the p? of the bath rises and is maintained by the addition of dilute
phosphoric or sulfuric acid. The lower practical limit of p? is :.$* lower p? for any
appreciable time wi&l precipitate (ueE. A'otassium hydro.ide in ,$C a%ueous solution
is used to raise p?.
Gold anodes are not used because they are inert in this system* bath replenishment
is as usual, by addition of potassium gold cyanide. The appropriate phosphate is used
as a buffer* it also increases conductivity and improves
The Engineering Metals 27%
Ta&le ()"- Acid Gold 'aths
Mat finish Bright finish
ngredient giL Molarity giL MoLarity
'otassium gold cyanide, F(u)+E-, :-,:.# $.$!-$.$@ 8-!;.# $.$,-$.$8
)Gold as metal- ,-!8 $.$!-$.$@ >-!, $.$,-$.$8
'otassium phosphate, F?,'7A! $-!$$ $-$.;: $-!$$ $-$.;:
+helates !$-,$$ -- !$-!#$ JJ
'rimary brighteners $ $.!-,$--
econdary brighteners $-!$ -- $.!-!$ JJ
Temperature, 9+ >$-;$ ,#-#$
+urrent density, A#m
2
!$-#$ @$-,$$
(nodes +, 't, Pti$i +, 't, 'tlTi
p? :-8 :-#
(gitation moderate rapid
1iltration continuous continuous
throwing power. +helating agents have many functions: they improve throwing
power, increase conductivity, act as inhibitors for the deposition of any base metals
present, and may serve as buffers. &n some cases they are necessary for proper action
of the brighteners.
'hosphate buffers are, in fact, suitable in the acid, neutral, and alkaline p? ranges*
deposits can be pure and soft, but can also be hard. 3ith continued use under alkaline
conditions, the phosphate baths wiU accumulate cyanide and finally will resemble the
alkaline cyanide systems.
The structures of gold from buffered systems are fine-grained and not resolvable
with a conventional metallograph at 8$$M. The hard golds with alloying additions are
laminar. &t has been reported that deposits from alloy baths, containing nominally "".@
percent (u and $., percent +o or Ei, actually contain up to $., percent carbon.
Eitrogen, o.ygen, and hydrogen were also found. The source of this carbon is still
under study* it may be the cyanogen polymers previously mentioned.
( large number of inorganic and organic additives, for brightening, hardening, and
alloying of the deposit from these buffered baths, have been patented. (lmost
universally these systems are proprietary, and information must be obtained from
suppliers of the systems.
Anodes
The type of anode used in gold plating depends on both the bath type and economic
considerations. Gold anodes are usable in alkaline cyanide baths and serve to
replenish the gold content* they are not used for bright alkaline cyanide
276 Electroplating: Principles and Practice/Section C
baths because of their effects on the brightener systems. Gold anodes are e.pensive
and add to inventory costs, as well as being a temptation to theft.
'latinum anodes can be used for all the baths mentioned. They are also very
e.pensive* they are not %uite as great a temptation to theft because platinum is not as
easily disposed of in illegal channels as gold. ?owever, they are used only when
performance is critical.
'latini/ed titanium anodes can be used for the neutral and acid baths. Their cost is
much less than that of pure platinum, and they are almost as satisfactory. They are
recommended as being preferable in most cases to stainless steel or carbon.
tainless steel anodes can be used in neutral and bright alkaline systems.
+arbon anodes are used only in the bright acid plating baths. They are not
recommended for neutral or alkaline baths because they deteriorate in use and can
cause deposit roughness.
OC#AIDE S#STE$S
everal noncyanide systems are described, patented, or both. They include a comple.
thiomalate system and baths based on gold)&&&- chloride comple.es.
Baths based on sulfite comple.es appear to be the most recent contributions to the
large number of systems available to the plater. 7ne authority, at least, believes that
such systems may oon rival the cyanide in commercial acceptance. 1or the present,
however, the cyanide systems-alkaline, neutral, or aciddominate the field of gold
plating.
GO!D ST,I.E 'ATHS
(s has been mentioned, a gold strike must almost always precede the main gold
deposit. Two systems are used: the alkaline cyanide and the acid. Their formulations
are listed in Table !:-". Gold strikes serve two functions: they promote adhesion of
the subse%uent gold deposit by eliminating the possibility of an immersion deposit
forming in the gold-plating bath, and they reduce contamination of the bath by either
the basis material or solution drag-in from preceding steps. Thickness of gold strikes
varies between $.$,# and $.,# #L
m
.
The selection of a gold strike is determined by the type of substrate to be plated. &n
general, the acid strike baths are used for plastic-bearing basis material such as printed
circuits or potted connectors. =ow metal content, about $.# to > g<=, generally is
re%uired in a strike bath so that low efficiencies will result* this entails copious
hydrogen evolution which is said to aid in cleaning the surface.
(lkaline strike baths are generally operated at a p? between @ and !:* acid strikes
at p? : to ;. Temperature of the alkaline strike is between >$ and 8$$+, and of the
acid strike :$ to 8$9+. These strikes are generally controlled by voltage: : to @ N for
alkaline and > to !, N for acid strikes.
(nodes for the alkaline strike are stainless steel* for the acid, platinum,
The Engineering Metals 277
Ta&le ()"/ Gold Strike 'aths
Al%aline Acid
ngredient giL Molarity giL Molarity
'otassium gold cyanide, F(u)+E-, $.;#-: $.$$,#-$.$! $.;#-8 $.$$,#-$.$,
)Gold as metal- $.#-, $.$$,#-$.$! $.#->A $.$$,#-$.$,
'otassium cyanide, F+E !#-"$ $.,:-!.> $ $
'otassium phosphate, F,?'7. !#-># $.$"-$.,# $ . $
'otassium phosphate, F?,'$> $ $ $-># $-$.::
+helates $ !#-"$--
Temperatures, 9+ >$-8$ :$-8$
p? @-!: :-;
Noltage, N :-@ >-!,
(nodes Ptl$i, 't, +
(gitation moderate moderate
platini/ed titanium or carbon. (gitation is moderate. Time in the strike varies from #,s
to # min, depending on the bath and whether the operation is rackplating or barrel
plating.
OTES O COT,O! AD OPE,ATIO
Conta0inants
5etallic contamination of gold-plating baths can arise in two ways: drag-in of plating
solution from preceding steps and attack on the basis metals being plated. 5ost metals
are comple.ed or chelated by the components of the gold baths and do not affect the
deposit* but this is not true of all metals in all systems. ilver, cadmium, /inc, lead, and
copper will codeposit with gold from the alkaline cyanide and neutral baths* lead, /inc,
and silver from acid baths.
The presence of these impurities )as distinguished from deliberately added alloying
metals- in the deposit cannot be tolerated for most uses. There is no good way of
removing them either chemically or electrolytically )by 0dummying0-* it is necessary
to reclaim the gold from the bath, eliminate the source of contamination, and start
afresh.
7rganic contamination has several possible sources. &t may arise from drag-in from
prior steps, dissolution of rack coatings and stopoffs or plastic substrates, and by
electrolytic decomposition of cyanides or organic additives present in the bath.
Use of proper rinsing procedures can reduce or eliminate drag-in, and proper selection
of rack coatings, stopoffs, and plastic substrates can minimi/e contami<