Conformal Electroless Nickel Plating on Silicon Wafers, Convex and Concave Pyramids, and Ultralong Nanowires

Thomas Mark Gill, Jiheng Zhao, Erwin J.W. Berenschot, Niels Tas, Xiaolin Zheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Nickel (Ni) plating has garnered great commercial interest, as it provides excellent hardness, corrosion resistance, and electrical conductivity. Though Ni plating on conducting substrates is commonly employed via electrodeposition, plating on semiconductors and insulators often necessitates electroless approaches. Corresponding plating theory for deposition on planar substrates was developed as early as 1946, but for substrates with micro- and nanoscale features, very little is known of the relationships between plating conditions, Ni deposition quality, and substrate morphology. Herein, we describe the general theory and mechanisms of electroless Ni deposition on semiconducting silicon (Si) substrates, detailing plating bath failures and establishing relationships between critical plating bath parameters and the deposited Ni film quality. Through this theory, we develop two different plating recipes: galvanic displacement (GD) and autocatalytic deposition (ACD). Neither recipe requires pretreatment of the Si substrate, and both methods are capable of depositing uniform Ni films on planar Si substrates and convex Si pyramids. In comparison, ACD has better tunability than GD, and it provides a more conformal Ni coating on complex and high-aspect-ratio Si structures, such as inverse fractal Si pyramids and ultralong Si nanowires. Our methodology and theoretical analyses can be leveraged to develop electroless plating processes for other metals and metal alloys and to generally provide direction for the adaptation of electroless deposition to modern applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22834-22840
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2018


  • and Si pyramids
  • electroless nickel plating
  • electroless plating
  • nickel plating on Si
  • Si nanowires
  • 22/4 OA procedure


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