Direct metallisation of polyetherimide substrates by activation with different metals

Thomas Jones (Lead / Corresponding author), Assel Ryspayeva, Mohammadreza N. Esfahani, Matthew P. Shuttleworth, Russell A. Harris, Robert W. Kay, Marc P. Y. Desmulliez, Jose Marques-Hueso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)
    118 Downloads (Pure)


    This article reports the performance of different metallic ions and nanoparticles (Ag, Cu, Ni, Pd, Cr, Co, Au and Fe) used as seed layers, formed by chemical or optical reduction, for the electroless Cu plating of metal tracks onto polyetherimide (PEI). Plated Cu performance was tested by adhesion, electrical conductivity, plating rate, XPS, SEM, XRD and EDX analysis. The application of Cu and Ag seeds resulted in high quality electroless Cu deposits presenting strong adhesion properties and high conductivity ((2.0±0.5)×10⁠7 S/m and (3.6±0.2)×10⁠7 S/m, respectively) compared with bulk copper (5.96×10⁠7 S/m). Performance is attributed to the high surface density and uniformity of seed layers. Of the metals, only Ag ions were photoreduced under the conditions applied and were subsequently used to electroless Cu plate high quality track features of 150μm width. The application of sulphuric acid pre-treatment to PEI prior to Ag ion exchange, improved the photoinitiated track formation process, as demonstrated by a threefold increase to both photoinduced Ag nanoparticle density on the surface and electroless Cu plating rate, as well as improved electroless Cu adhesion to PEI.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-296
    Number of pages12
    JournalSurface & Coatings Technology
    Early online date9 Jan 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2019


    • Direct metallisation
    • Photoreduction
    • Polyetherimide
    • Electroless copper
    • Metal catalyst
    • Electrical interconnect


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