Interconnect Fabrication by Electroless Plating on 3D-Printed Electroplated Patterns

Md Emran Hossain Bhuiyan, Salvador Moreno, Chao Wang, Majid Minary-Jolandan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The metallic interconnects are essential components of energy devices such as fuel cells and electrolysis cells, batteries, as well as electronics and optoelectronic devices. In recent years, 3D printing processes have offered complementary routes to the conventional photolithography- and vacuum-based processes for interconnect fabrication. Among these methods, the confined electrodeposition (CED) process has enabled a great control over the microstructure of the printed metal, direct printing of high electrical conductivity (close to the bulk values) metals on flexible substrates without a need to sintering, printing alloys with controlled composition, printing functional metals for various applications including magnetic applications, and for in situ scanning electron microscope (SEM) nanomechanical experiments. However, the metal deposition rate (or the overall printing speed) of this process is reasonably slow because of the chemical nature of the process. Here, we propose using the CED process to print a single layer of a metallic trace as the seed layer for the subsequent selected-area electroless plating. By controlling the activation sites through printing by the CED process, we control, where the metal grows by electroless plating, and demonstrate the fabrication of complex thin-film patterns. Our results show that this combined process improves the processing time by more than 2 orders of magnitude compared to the layer-by-layer printing process by CED. Additionally, we obtained Cu and Ni films with an electrical resistivity as low as ∼1.3 and ∼2 times of the bulk Cu and Ni, respectively, without any thermal annealing. Furthermore, our quantitative experiments show that the obtained films exhibit mechanical properties close to the bulk metals with an excellent adhesion to the substrate. We demonstrate potential applications for radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, for complex printed circuit board patterns, and resistive sensors in a Petri dish for potential biological applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19271-19281
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 28 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • additive printing of metal films
  • electroless plating
  • electroplating
  • microscale 3D printing
  • thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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