Electroplating, Electrochemistry and Electronics - The 15th William Blum Lecture - Part 1
This article is the first of four parts of a re-publication of the 15th William Blum Lecture, presented at the 61st AES Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, on June 17, 1974. Dr. George Dubpernell reviews the history and extent of commercial plating, then delves into the electrochemical science, including potentials, overvoltage and connections to electronics.
#electronics #research #plating
Recipient of the 1973 William Blum
AES Scientific Achievement Award
Editor’s Note: Originally published as Plating & Surface Finishing, 62 (4), 327-334 (1975), this article is the first of four parts of a re-publication of the 15th William Blum Lecture, presented at the 61st AES Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, on June 17, 1974. A printable PDF version of Part 1 is available by clicking HERE. The printable PDF version of the complete 44-page paper is available HERE.
A brief review is given of the history of the electrodeposition of metals and of the formation of the American Electroplaters' Society. The extent of the commercial plating of different metals is discussed. A new point of view is given on the nature of electrode potentials, including some new experimental data and examples of the place of hydrogen overvoltage in metal deposition. It appears that "overvoltage" is probably an electronic property of the surface of the electrode, and may be intimately related to the "surface states" commonly postulated in electronics. If the suggested relationship is correct, overvoltage measurement may possibly provide a new tool for electronic studies of metal and probably also semiconductor surfaces. Some of the relatively close relationships which exist between electroplating, electrochemistry and electronics are pointed out.
Electroplating had its beginnings in 1800, as soon as Volta announced the discovery of the voltaic pile, or primary battery, as a source of power.1,2 Thus, plating was a battery powered industry for almost a century, and it was not until around 1880-1900 that direct current generators took over the major portion of the power supply. Following the introduction of commercial nickel plating in 1869-1870,3 it was not long before dynamo electric machines started to be used on a small scale.
Edward Weston was quick to seize this opportunity and to fill the need, particularly since he failed to break the patent monopoly on nickel.3 Abraham Van Winkle was one of his backers.4 Thus, the 1876 catalog of Condit, Hanson and Van Winkle featured the Weston Dynamo-Electric Machine in four sizes. The names of over 30 purchasers of the machines were listed, and in just a few years these numbered in the hundreds.
A Metal Polishers Union was formed in 1880 by Charles Ernest of the Michigan Stove Company, with Local No. 1 in Detroit, Michigan.5 This union was at first part of the Knights of Labor, but in 1889 became affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, and later on, probably in the 1930s, also with the C.I.O. It published a monthly Metal Polishers Journal beginning in 1890, and this magazine continues right down to the present under the title Metal Polisher, Buffer and Plater. However, this journal is confined almost entirely to union matters, with only an occasional technical article, generally a reprint from other sources.
The American Electroplaters' Society was formed by Charles H. Proctor and others to meet the needs of foreman platers for more knowledge of chemistry and electrochemistry. Mr. Proctor presented a paper on the electrodeposition of brass in 1907 at the first convention of the newly formed American Brass Founders' Association, a splinter organization of the American Foundrymen's Association, and suggested the formation of another sub-group, a Platers and Polishers Association.6 This suggestion was favorably received, but Mr. Proctor decided that it would be better to form an entirely independent organization, which he succeeded in doing in March and April, 1909, the National Electro-Platers' Association of the United States and Canada (NEPA).7
The American Foundrymen's Association dropped its activities directed to the formation of a platers sub-group as soon as the NEPA was successfully launched. The NEPA was converted to the American Electroplaters' Society as of June 1, 1913.8
The newly-formed National Electro-Platers' Association (NEPA) divorced itself completely from the Metal Polishers Union.9 The 30,000 member union tried to discourage the growth and activities of the new Society for several years, but the Society adhered firmly to its educational goals and maintained its separate existence. This situation explains why the early lists of Branch officers included a sergeant-at-arms who was posted at the door of the meeting place and checked to see that only bona fide members entered.
Another pre-AES publication was a little supply house magazine called The Plate and published monthly from January, 1909, to October, 1909, by the Dow Chemical Mfg. Co. of Mansfield, Ohio, unrelated to the Dow Chemical Mfg. Company of Midland, Michigan. This little magazine was edited to a considerable extent by Herbert J. Hawkins, but seems to have been discontinued when it became apparent that the new NEPA would soon be publishing a journal, something which actually came to pass about a year later, in the fall of 1910.
The Periodic Chart
A long-period chart of the elements, most suited for use in electroplating studies is reproduced here (Fig. 1) with the most recent changes and additions included. When this chart was first published by the writer in 1946,10 he had been using it regularly from 1926 on. In the meantime, similar charts were published by Ellingham11,12 and Blum.13 In discussing the writer's chart, Dr. Blum was kind enough to call it "the plater's road map," which indeed it is.