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Electroplating involves passing an electric current through a solution called an electrolyte. This is done by dipping two terminals called electrodes into the electrolyte and connecting them into a circuit with a battery or other power supply. The electrodes and electrolyte are made from carefully chosen elements or compounds. When the electricity flows through the circuit they make, the electrolyte splits up and some of the metal atoms it contains are deposited in a thin layer on top of one of the electrodes—it becomes electroplated. All kinds of metals can be plated in this way, including gold, silver, tin, zinc, copper, cadmium, chromium, nickel, platinum, and lead.
Electroplating is very similar to electrolysis (using electricity to split up a chemical solution), which is the reverse of the process by which batteries produce electric currents. All these things are examples of electrochemistry: chemical reactions caused by or producing electricity that give scientifically or industrially useful end-products.