This study focused on improvement of electroless plating methods by use of particular bath additives. The techniques developed here can enable us to plate very thin layers selectively on a nonconductive substrate and thus create metallized features on a nanoscale. Through the development of such bottom-up techniques this work contributes a key technology to achieving self-assembled nanocircuits. The use of additives in an electroless plating environment can modify the barriers to nucleation (or seeding) and growth. Two additives, namely 3-mercapto-1-propanesulfonic Acid (MPS) and 1,3-propanedisulfonic acid (PDS), notably increased the selectivity of electroless metallization on chemically modified surfaces, which can be used to create patterned structures. More specifically, the additives increased the growth rate of metal on an aminosilane-coated surface relative to an uncoated surface. This work includes an examination of metal layer thickness and conductivity in addition to selectivity. The layer thickness was determined through the use of atomic force microscopy on surfaces that exhibited conductivity. The conductivity of the surface metal was determined through a measurement on a four-point probe measurement. In this series of experiments, the disulfonate-containing additive PDS provided the highest nucleation density, highest conductivity and the best selectivity ratio. The palladium metal deposit on the PDS-treated surface was nearly uniform in height and its conductivity approached the bulk conductivity of palladium with a metal height of less than 30 nm. MPS-treated surfaces also provided increased nucleation density when used during the seeding step, but the resulting conductivity was less than that of the PDS treated samples. We recommend the use of PDS as an effective electroless plating additive for use in palladium electroless plating processes.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





palladium, electroless plating, additives