Anodizing Aluminum: How Can It Be Done?

Astronomy, Chemistry, Technology
Aluminum is a versatile metal, yet in order to be used in certain applications, it needs to be modified, improved. One way of modifying it is to add certain ingredients, such as a trace of copper, to toughen it. Another modification is the process of anodizing aluminum. What does that refer to? Anode & Cathode We're all familiar with electroplating. We may have eaten meals using silver-plate utensils. Or we may have attended a classic auto show in which older cars have chrome-plated bumpers. A metal coating (plating) from a chemical bath is applied using electricity to transfer the metal from a supply source (the anode) to the object to be plated (the cathode). The simplified artwork below illustrates a copper bath, complete with anode, cathode, and plating solution. A…
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How I Became the NRAO Electroplater / Electroformer

Astronomy, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_9605" align="alignright" width="480"] NRAO Green Bank Telescope.[/caption] Little did I know my future lay with the NRAO. As early as the 8th grade, my teacher informed us we needed to choose a career. I chose astronomy. My mother informed me, “No. There is no future in astronomy.” I was downhearted! Her friend’s husband worked for Union Carbide. I asked Mom if chemistry was acceptable? She said that was fine. Curiously, in high school I became a close friend of a kid from Canada who loved chemistry, Charles Harris. I greatly admired him. He was instrumental in my growing appreciation of chemistry. From College to Employment Beginning in my junior and senior years at high school, and later at college, I found myself drawn to organic chemistry and to quantum…
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Why Electroless Plating and Electroplating?

[caption id="attachment_6370" align="alignright" width="440"] Nickel Plating[/caption] Many items need require a coating of metal. Such can be applied in a couple of ways. One way is electroless plating. Another way is electroplating. Chrome handles on car doors are plastic with a veneer of metal. When you look in a mirror, you see your reflection in a sheet of glass with a metal film on the back. If you wear gold eyeglasses, there is a super thin coat of gold over base metal. Most plating uses a water solution containing metal salts. If an electric source is used to deposit the plate, the process is electroplating. If no electric source is used, it is auto-catalytic or electroless plating. How do these work? We will discuss the basics, beginning with electroplating. Electroplating…
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