The innovation engine for new materials

Bailee Rusconi

Bailee Rusconi, Chemistry, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo




California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo


Hellen Papananou

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Rachel Segalman

Faculty Sponsor's Department(s): 

Chemical Engineering

Project Title: 

Improving Copper Adhesion to Polyimide in the Electroless Plating Process

Project Description: 

As technology moves toward flexible electronic devices, circuit boards also need to evolve from their current rigid form to a more malleable structure that can be incorporated into a flexible device while still maintaining their ability to carry electricity.  The electrically conductive parts of traditional circuit boards are typically made of copper.  Usually, the process by which copper is deposited on them is done through electroless plating; therefore, there is a need to apply this existing knowledge of copper deposition to flexible circuit boards.  The problem with implementing this knowledge is that copper does not adhere well to the flexible substrate, usually polyimide.  Our goal is to synthesize a dual functional water-soluble polymer that can adhere very well to the substrate but also coordinate with copper.  Mussel moieties histamine and dopamine are known to promote adhesion under water; therefore, we propose utilizing these moieties on a polymer backbone to create a thin adhesive film between the substrate and the deposited copper. We chose a water-soluble poly (ethylene oxide–allyl glycidyl ether), P(EO-AGE) backbone, that histamine and dopamine can be easily incorporated into, in order to facilitate adhesion with the flexible substrates while enabling the planarization of copper in electroless copper plating.  Once synthesized, the polymer was incorporated in the electroless plating process.  Adhesion was determined via a scotch-tape test and the quality of plating was characterized through atomic force microscopy. With the implementation of adhesive polymers in the electroless plating process, flexible electronics can be feasible.