The overall objective of this SERDP Exploratory Development (SEED) project is to develop technologies for the passivation of corrosion resistant coatings used in Department of Defense electrical system components so that the use of hexavalent chromium can be eliminated. The project will analyze and test several variations of a nano-material chemistry now being used at the Averatek Corporation. This technology was originally developed by scientists at SRI International and exclusively licensed to Averatek.

Technical Approach

This project will study application of the Averatek catalytic precursor “ink” to create a passivation layer for corrosion resistant coatings. The key features of this catalytic precursor ink include: (1) it is a wet chemistry that can be easily deposited through a variety of dipping, printing, or spraying mechanisms; (2) it results in a uniformly distributed atomic layer of active catalytic nano-material; and (3) it does not promote hydrogen embrittlement. This ink was originally developed to facilitate an additive print-and-plate process for the three dimensional metallization of rigid and flexible printed circuit boards; however, recently it has been discovered that the nano-material properties of this catalytic precursor ink also promote a variety of phenomena when used on conducting substrates. This phenomenon includes the facilitation of the deposition or formation of nanolayers of highly conductive, scratch and wear resistant, and corrosion resistant chemical structures that can act as passivation layers for Nickel, Zinc-Nickel, and other alloys of conductive metals. The project team will design a series of experiments and tests for various formulations of this catalytic ink in order to determine if the ink or some derivation of the ink can be optimized so that its performance as a facilitator of a passivation layer satisfies the specified performance requirements.


Averatek’s coating chemistry will be used to produce a passivation layer on conducting metals that is easy to apply, that is extremely thin, that consists of environmentally friendly metals such as palladium, that uses environmentally sound methods of manufacture and application, that provide conductive paths as well as wear resistance, that does not promote hydrogen embrittlement, that eliminates the need for the use of hexavalent chromium, and that meets or exceeds the performance of conventional chromium based passivation layers. The technology could also be applied to protect the base metal and/or facilitate the plating of Zinc-Nickel layers. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)

  • Manufacturing ,

  • Lead-Free Electronics