Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NIST seeking cure for electronics-killing whiskers

18.11.2005


Top: Colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows a "whisker" on the surface of a tin-copper alloy. The image was taken 176 days after the alloy was electroplated onto a tiny cantilever beam.
Bottom: Micrograph of a "hillock" on an electrodeposited surface of pure tin (10 times the magnification of top image).
Image credit:NIST/Boettinger et al., Acta Materialia,5033-5050


Environmental groups around the world have been campaigning for years to replace lead-containing solders and protective layers on electronic components with non-hazardous metals and alloys. In response, the European Union (EU) will ban the use of lead (and five other hazardous substances) in all electrical and electronic equipment sold in EU nations starting in July 2006. U.S. manufacturers must comply with this requirement in order to market their products overseas.

However, pure electroplated tin and lead-free tin alloys tend to spontaneously grow metallic whiskers (thin filament-like structures often several millimeters long) during service. These defects can lead to electrical shorts and failures across component leads and connectors.

Whiskers--and more benign raised formations called hillocks--are believed to be a metal’s means of relieving stress generated by the electroplating process, so National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers--working with the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI)--have been trying to identify the origins of such stresses and better understand the resulting mechanisms for whisker and hillock growth. In a recent paper in Acta Materialia,* they reported that the surfaces of tin-copper deposits developed extremely long whiskers while pure tin deposits (the simplest lead-free plating finish) only produced hillocks. By comparison, the soon-to-be-banned tin-lead deposits did not form either type of deformity (a characteristic known since the 1960s).



The NIST researchers determined that whiskers and hillocks form when the boundaries between individual grains in a deposit have a column-shaped structure. If the boundaries move laterally, hillocks form. When copper impurities hold the columnar boundaries immobile, whiskers are the result. A tin-lead deposit possesses randomly structured boundaries that do not create either of these actions.

Based on these findings, the NIST researchers are exploring ways of eliminating the stresses and creating deposit structures without column grains that elicit whiskers and hillocks. One possibility involves using an alternating current on/current off electroplating process instead of the traditional continuous current method. This could disrupt the formation of columnar boundaries, yielding a structure similar to that of a tin-lead deposit but without lead’s environmental danger.

Michael E. Newman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht A new tool for discovering nanoporous materials
23.05.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Did you know that packaging is becoming intelligent through flash systems?
23.05.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>