The Art and Science of Electrochemical Plating

Shruti Srivastav November 13, 2018

Electroplating is commonly used for surface finishing due to its effectiveness across the automotive, electronics, corrosion protection, aerospace, and defense industries. Since WWII, the number of patents claiming to achieve “perfect plating” has increased exponentially. The focus of the narrative surrounding electrochemical plating has also shifted from complex chemical reactions toward perfecting operating conditions. In this blog post, we show how to achieve smoother metal surfaces during reverse pulse plating (RPP) using the COMSOL Multiphysics® software and add-on Electrodeposition Module.

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Henrik Ekström August 29, 2018

Ion-exchange membranes are widely employed within the field of electrochemical engineering. In polymer electrolyte fuel cells and vanadium flow batteries, they are used to conduct ions and at the same time prevent reactants and electrons from crossing between the two flow compartments. The ability to promote the passage of ions of either positive or negative charge is also used in electrodialysis for cleaning water from ions. In this blog post, we will explore the ion-selective capabilities of ion-exchange membranes.

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Thomas Forrister July 3, 2018

In electrochemistry, it’s common to use a microdisk as the working electrode in an analytical technique known as cyclic voltammetry. However, unlike with a macroelectrode, diffusion at a microelectrode occurs very fast on the timescale of the experiment. To simplify the analysis, we can use an approximation that assumes the microdisk has stationary diffusion properties on the timescale of the voltammetry study — eliminating the need for a time-dependent model.

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Caty Fairclough June 21, 2018

If you were to take apart almost any modern electronic product, you would find a printed circuit board (PCB). A closer look at this common component reveals a pattern of copper lines on its surface. These conducting lines can be created using a process called electrodeposition, which modifies device surfaces via electrochemical reactions. To enhance electrodeposition techniques for circuit board manufacturing, engineers can use numerical modeling.

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Brianne Costa June 14, 2018

After World War II, a boom in the economy caused Americans to buy a record number of cars (leading to serious levels of pollution). Today, we have more energy-efficient vehicles — such as hybrid and electric options — and another “boom” is occurring, this time for autonomous vehicles (AVs). Again, pollution is an issue, but in a different way: There’s a debate over whether self-driving cars should have hybrid engines to maximize profit or all-electric engines to minimize pollution.

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Edmund Dickinson September 5, 2017

Precision machining and quality of surface finish are major concerns for manufacturers of metal parts. The promise of a contactless method to machine surfaces with submillimeter precision and a clean surface, on metals of almost any hardness, might seem too good to be true. However, such a method, pulsed electrochemical machining (PECM), was the focus of a detailed investigation using numerical modeling presented at the COMSOL Conference 2016 Munich.

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Caty Fairclough August 15, 2017

Zone electrophoresis separates different species in a sample into distinct well-resolved peaks, giving scientists the ability to analyze substances like proteins and nucleic acids. Improving this electrophoretic separation technique requires us to accurately model the transport and separation of these species. Here, let’s look at how the COMSOL Multiphysics® software can be used to simulate the movement of species during zone electrophoresis.

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Bridget Cunningham March 10, 2017

While reverse electrodialysis (RED) is a promising source of renewable energy, it can be a challenging process to analyze. The performance of RED units is affected by the physical phenomena that occur when converting salinity gradient energy into electric current. To address this, one team of researchers used a novel approach to model such systems in the COMSOL Multiphysics® software. Their multiphysics model and subsequent simulation studies provide further insight into designing and optimizing RED units.

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Edmund Dickinson February 9, 2017

Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy is a versatile experimental technique that provides information about an electrochemical cell’s different physical and chemical phenomena. By modeling the physical processes involved, we can constructively interpret the experiment’s results and assess the magnitudes of the physical quantities controlling the cell. We can then turn this model into an app, making electrochemical modeling accessible to more researchers and engineers. Here, we will look at three different ways of analyzing EIS: experiment, model, and simulation app.

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Bridget Cunningham December 7, 2016

Traditional lithium-ion batteries use an electrolyte based on a flammable liquid solvent, which can cause them to catch fire if they overheat. In recent years, nonflammable solid electrolytes have been investigated as an alternative to improve battery design and safety. Optimizing this technology for industrial applications, however, requires a better understanding of the electrochemical processes inside the device. Simulation serves as a valuable tool for this purpose, helping to realize the use of solid-state lithium-ion batteries in the near future.

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Scott Smith August 24, 2016

Resistive and capacitive effects are fundamental to the understanding of electrochemical systems. The resistances and capacitances due to mass transfer can be represented through physical equations describing the corresponding fundamental phenomena, like diffusion. Further, when considering the resistive or capacitive behavior of double layers, thin films, and reaction kinetics, such effects can be treated simply through physical conditions relating electrochemical currents and voltages. Lastly, resistances and capacitances from external loading circuits can easily be represented in the COMSOL Multiphysics® software.

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