Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


W. Chris Hughes

Barbara A. Reisner

Brycelyn M. Boardman


The metallization of Au onto plastics is an important processing step in applications such as the aerospace and automotive industries, the field of microelectronics, and the fabrication of microfluidic devices. While its corrosion resistance and excellent electrical and thermal conductivity make Au a useful choice, its inertness results in poor adhesion to polymer surfaces. Previous studies have indicated that exposing commercially available poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) sheets to chloroform vapor following Au deposition significantly improves adhesion. In this study, we utilized electron-beam evaporation and magnetron sputtering to deposit Au thin films onto 1.50 mm thick PMMA and exposed the samples to vapor released from chloroform heated on a hot plate set at 70 °C. The force required to remove both treated and untreated Au thin films was determined by placing samples on a polisher spinning at 150 rpm and utilizing UV-VIS spectroscopy to measure the absorbance of light through the films to quantify their removal as a function of applied polishing force. The pressure required to polish Au from PMMA exposed to chloroform (CHCl3) after metal deposition was compared to the pressure required for pre-treated samples. Post-treated Au thin films were characterized during the polishing process using atomic force microscopy (AFM). AFM images demonstrated a progressive roughening of the surface corresponding to an increase in applied force. Additionally, these images support a model in which the chloroform treatment softens the PMMA surface, producing a softened layer that the polisher removes simultaneously with the Au thin film. The chloroform post-treatment procedure was then used to selectively pattern a series of PMMA samples.



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