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Tin whiskers

  1. Jan 12, 2008 #1

    Just recently where I work we had a large amount of electronics parts shipped back to us because some terminals had tin plating. I have never seen these tin whiskers before and I can't find a good explanation for what causes them to grow. There is a decent picture of some severe growth in the article.The article also states that Europe has barred lead from most electronic components, and I assume that a tin-based solder will be substituted.

    Any ideas on what might cause this, or what will happen as all of these lead free electronics age?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2008 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2008
  4. Jan 14, 2008 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Electromigration is a serious issue. At my work, we ended up holding up the release of an important product in order to understand and figure out a way to prevent electromigration in an important product (sells in the millions worldwide). Integrated circuit manufacturers had to figure out how to keep electromigration from causing dendritic growth inside ICs way back in the early days as well....

    Here's a good intro article at wikipedia.org, with a number of useful links out:


    After you read through some of the references that Fred and I have offered, feel free to post more questions here if you like. Preventing this problem is non-trivial, but do-able if you understand the issues.
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