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Mechanically robust silver coatings prepared by electroless plating on thermoplastic polyurethane

A simple and low-cost surface functionalization method is proposed to activate a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) for the electroless deposition of a silver coating with excellent adhesion and low resistivity. The TPU surface functionalization was performed in solution and consisted in forming a physical interpenetrating network at the TPU surface, involving TPU and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a polymer displaying a strong affinity for metals. The presence of PVP on the TPU surface and its stability in aqueous solution were assessed by ATR-FTIR and contact angle measurements as a function of the PVP concentration and treatment time. A modified Tollens solution was used to grow a silver film on the TPU substrate, by using the electroless plating method. Compact silver films with an average thickness of 12.5?µm and a resistivity of 8.57?m?·cm were obtained for a 24?h plating time. The adhesion strength of the silver film proved to be higher than 8.5?N/cm. The resistance to fatigue of the silver films was studied by performing series of compression/stretching tests (150 cycles). It was concluded that the films kept low resistance values, although displaying a higher sensitivity to compression than to stretching. Furthermore, the films keep a good conductivity for strains up to 400%. The excellent electrical and mechanical properties of the films make them suitable candidates for the coating of multipin dry bioelectrodes. Owing to the high affinity of many metals for PVP, this activation technique has the potential to be extended to the deposition of other metals and other polymers as well, provided a suitable solvent is used.

» Author: B. Vasconcelos, K. Vediappan, J.C. Oliveira, C. Fonseca

» Reference: Applied Surface Science, Volume 443

» Publication Date: 15/06/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [609149].

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