App note: Tin whiskers are real and complex

Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2013 in app notes by DP


This app note discusses the problems caused by the removal of lead from electronics and ways to mitigate tin whiskers:

“Tin whiskers” is not an imaginative, fanciful term for some aspect of electronics manufacturing. Tin whiskers are real. They are microscopic conductive fibers emanating from pure tin surfaces, and they pose a serious problem to electronics of all types. These whiskers can form electrical paths, which affect the operation of the subject device. This article discusses the problems caused by the removal of lead from electronics and describes some techniques to mitigate tin whiskers.

A similar version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2011 issue of EE Times magazine.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm and is filed under app notes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “App note: Tin whiskers are real and complex”

  1. Jim Narem says:

    If you dig down in the references of that Maxim app note you’ll find the NASA whisker page: There you’ll find even more disturbing whisker facts. My favorite is that zinc will also whisker. So if the grid of the raised floor of your machine room is galvanized, it will whisker. If they get sucked up and redistributed by the air handler they can short out your computers. Fun!

  2. willemite says:

    this is a great app note. Not only does it show us the problems with whiskers, but also the issue with politics finding things to beat on that are not necessarily useful. like global warming… heh heh

  3. Bob Landman says:

    Read the article on tin whiskers found in pedal assemblies of Toyotas. Scentists at NASA are not happy about comments by the DOT that “no electronic problems were found that caused sudden acceleration”. That’s because as soon as they found whiskers, the funding was cancelled.

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