Effects of temperature on microstructures of MSA-type electroplating solution: a coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation

T Li and C Liang and KF Yu and JC Li and CJ Lin and HF Li and YZ Xu and SS Cai and QS Zhu and QR Huang and W Xing and XZ Duan, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 25, 28272-28281 (2023).

DOI: 10.1039/d3cp03342b

In this study, we employ coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to explore the microstructure of MSA (methanesulfonic acid)-type electroplating solution, containing Sn(MSA)(2) as the primary salt, MSA as the stabilizer, amphiphilic alkylphenol ethoxylate (APEO) as surfactants and cinnamaldehyde (CA) as the brightener agents, as well as water as the solvent. Our simulation indicates that temperature variations can significantly affect the structural properties of the electroplating solution and the adsorption behavior of its key components onto the substrate. Specifically, at low temperatures, the primary salt ions aggregate into ionic clusters, and the amphiphilic APEO surfactants and CA molecules form micelles composed of hydrophobic cores and hydrophilic shells, which reduces the uniformity of the solution and hinders the adsorption of ions, CA and surfactants onto the substrate. Appropriately increasing the temperature can weaken the aggregation of these components in bulk solution due to the accelerated molecular movements and arouse their adsorption. However, on further increasing the temperature, the elevated kinetic energy of the components thoroughly overwhelms the adsorption interactions, and therefore, the ions, surfactants, and CA desorb from the substrate and redissolve into the solution. We systematically analyze the complex interactions between these components at different temperatures and clarify the mechanism of the non-monotonic dependence of adsorption strength on the temperature at the molecular level. Our simulations demonstrate that there is low-temperature scope for reprocessing/recycling and intermediate-temperature scope for substrate- adsorptions of the key components. This study confers insights into a fundamental understanding of the microscopic mechanism for electroplating and can provide guidance for the development of precise electroplatings.

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