Electrochemical Deposition

Definition - What does Electrochemical Deposition mean?

Electrochemical deposition is a process that uses oxidation and reduction to accumulate one material onto the surface of another material. During the electrochemical deposition process, electricity is introduced to an electrolyte through the use of electrodes. After a while, the ions of the deposition material in the electrolyte adhere to one of the electrodes.

Electrochemical deposition can achieve extremely thin layer deposits that can make it a very cost-effective process. Electrochemical deposition can also create very strong bonds between the two materials, allowing the finished product to have a coating that is quite durable.

Corrosionpedia explains Electrochemical Deposition

Electrochemical deposition is typically used to deposit, or plate, one type of material onto another. For this reason, electrochemical deposition is also sometimes referred as electroplating.

Electrochemical deposition works because of some very fundamental electrochemical properties. Two electrodes, an anode and a cathode, are dipped into an electrolytic solution. Electrode and electrolyte material selection are incredibly important during this process. If the wrong materials are present then the electrochemical reaction that occurs may not make the desired electrochemical deposition. It may not even make a deposition at all. Also, the polarity of the electrodes must be correct; otherwise the desired reaction may not occur.

When electricity is run through the electrodes and the electrolyte, oxidation and reduction occur. The flow of ions through the electrolyte onto one of the electrodes causes the electrochemical deposition to occur.

There are two main reasons to use the electrochemical deposition process:

  1. Aesthetic appeal. Precious metals are expensive. One way to give a cheaper metal the look of a precious metal is to plate it with a thin layer of gold, platinum or silver. This is very common in the jewelry industry.
  2. To give a material a protective coating. A popular example of this is electroplating steel with a zinc coating. Many different automotive components are manufactured from zinc-plated steel that was coated using the electrochemical deposition process.
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