Electroplating is a fabrication technique to create a thin layer of a metal or conductive material. Current is used to reduce the cations of the desired material in a solution. These ions then plate to the surface of a conductive substrate.
Electroplating has numerous applications. In science and research, it is a useful technique for growing metallic films. In everyday usage, electroplating is used to coat metals that a non-reactive metal to protect the bulk material. This is commonly done in nickel plating. For aesthetics, chrome or gold can be electroplated to create a shiny exterior.
Soft materials can be paired with this process to develop unique materials. Porous metal thin films can be created using a solution that has micelles in it as demonstrated in "Three-Dimensional Interstitial Nanovoid of Nanoparticulate Pt Film Electroplated from Reverse Micelle Solution".
 Wikipedia article on "Electroplating"
 Basics of how electroplating works from www.finishing.com