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Substitution of cyanide in electroplating is a current challenge. We present an alternative method aiming to reduce the toxicity and the cost of electroplating of Cu-Zn alloy (usually prepared from cyanide baths) while maintaining the decorative qualities and anticorrosive properties of the coating. For this purpose, Cu-Zn alloys were obtained in two steps from non-cyanide electrolytes. First, a copper layer electrodeposited onto a nickel under-layer, followed by a thin layer of zinc from three different simple non-cyanide zinc baths. The Zn/Cu/Ni sandwich system was then subjected to heat treatment at a temperature of 400°C, to ensure the diffusion of zinc into the copper layer to give the desired Cu-Zn alloy structure. The synthesized films were characterized by using X-ray diffraction XRD, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). XRD demonstrated that the electrodeposited films are crystalline and present the Cu0.7Zn0.3 phase with preferential (111) orientation. An analysis of XRD patterns revealed that after heat treatment, the Cu-Zn alloys were composed of a predominating α-phase structure. The morphology and composition of the coatings depends on the zinc plating bath type. After annealing, well defined pseudo-spherical Cu-Zn grains were formed covering the entire substrate surface. The EDS analysis indicated the formation of Cu0.7Zn0.3 brass alloys, corrosion was studied by impedance spectroscopy. The results showed the feasibility of this low-cost new route for the preparation of good quality Cu–Zn alloys from cyanide-free electrolytes.
Keywords: Electrodeposition; Cu-Zn alloy; Brass; Non-cyanide bath; Heat treatment;
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