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Tech Brief: Elements of Electroplating

Why copper deposited by electroplating has lower resistivity and better fill than other deposition methods.

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Electroplating is a common manufacturing process that applies a thin layer of one metal onto another. The U.S. penny, for example, has been made of zinc with a thin, electroplated coating of copper since 1982. Jewelry and flatware are also frequently electroplated to improve visual appearance or provide wear and corrosion resistance. Today, electroplating is widely performed in the electronics industry to deposit conducting metals used in printed circuit boards, connectors, and most recently in semiconductor interconnects.

Throughout the chipmaking process, layers of dielectric (insulating) and metal (conducting) materials are deposited. Depending on the type of material and structure being made, different physical or chemical techniques are employed. Electroplating is used to create the copper interconnects and vias that link components together in an integrated circuit. Copper deposited by electroplating has lower resistivity and better fill characteristics than other deposition methods such as physical vapor deposition.

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