Electroplating of copper on low carbon steel from alkaline citrate complex baths

Isao Saeki*, Takuma Harada, Isamu Tanaka, Tetsuya Ando, Lu Gan, Hideyuki Murakami

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The use of alkaline electroplating baths is the essential requirement to deposit Cu directly onto steels because of non-adherent Cu formation by replacement reaction between Cu2+ and Fe in acidic solution. For the development of such an electroplating bath, complexing agents to form soluble Cu complex in alkaline pH is necessary at first. Secondary, the soluble Cu complex must be reduced electrochemically. Cyanide-based baths meet these requirements, but the bath is toxic. In this study, the survey of complexing agents revealed that citric and tartaric acids form soluble copper complex solutions in alkaline pH, and electroplating is possible. The cathodic current density range to obtain smooth and adhesive electroplating with citrate complexed bath was extensive than that with a tartrate bath. It was found that 0.1 mol dm -3 CuSO4 - 0.5 mol dm -3 citric acid baths with pH of 9-11 are optimum to obtain adhesive and uniform Cu layer. Copper electroplating with an acidic CuSO4-H2SO4 bath was possible on 1 μm Cu layer with the alkaline citrate bath. Because the plating rate is high with the acidic bath, the multilayer Cu electroplating from the citrate bath and then an acidic sulfate bath gives a reasonable way for Cu coating onto steels. Elongation test of the steel sheet electroplated with the multilayer Cu showed that detachment of the Cu layer was limited in the vicinity of the broken part of the sheet. It is concluded that the toxic cyanide Cu plating bath can be replaced with a citrate bath.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2037
Number of pages7
Journalisij international
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 15


  • Complex bath
  • Cu electroplating
  • Steel sheet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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