Cyanide based silver electroplating is a low-cost reliable and well-established process for metal deposition. However, delicate handling during the process is needed because of the high toxicity of cyanide, for the persons and the environment. Uracil based silver electrodeposition got the attention of this field, because of its low cost and non-toxic nature. However, little is known about the silver complexation with uracil and the process behind the silver electroplating.
In this work, we studied a hitherto unknown phenomenon on the diverse structure’s formation of silver uracil coordination complex due to the presence of different alkaline counterions. The distinct structuration of this complex clearly impacts on the efficiency and deposition yields of silver electroplating. We demonstrate the unknown key role that play hydroxide counterions in the uracil-silver coordination, and the different molecular structures created on the basis of the used counterion. The hydroxide counterion determines monomeric and polymeric complex formation with silver, which affects the solubility of the uracil silver complex and its subsequent electrodeposition. The different molecular complexes were characterized by FT-IR, UV–vis, DRUV–vis and multi-nuclear NMR spectroscopy and the silver electrodeposition by cyclic voltammetry and TOF-SIMS. This study sheds some light in the improvement of silver electroplating process