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Study of Metal Whiskers Growth and Mitigation Technique Using Additive Manufacturing

Description: For years, the alloy of choice for electroplating electronic components has been tin-lead (Sn-Pb) alloy. However, the legislation established in Europe on July 1, 2006, required significant lead (Pb) content reductions from electronic hardware due to its toxic nature. A popular alternative for coating electronic components is pure tin (Sn). However, pure tin has the tendency to spontaneously grow electrically conductive Sn whisker during storage. Sn whisker is usually a pure single crystal tin with filament or hair-like structures grown directly from the electroplated surfaces. Sn whisker is highly conductive, and can cause short circuits in electronic components, which is a very significant reliability problem. The damages caused by Sn whisker growth are reported in very critical applications such as aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and military weapons systems. They are also naturally very strong and are believed to grow from compressive stresses developed in the Sn coating during deposition or over time. The new directive, even though environmentally friendly, has placed all lead-free electronic devices at risk because of whisker growth in pure tin. Additionally, interest has occurred about studying the nature of other metal whiskers such as zinc (Zn) whiskers and comparing their behavior to that of Sn whiskers. Zn whiskers can be found in flooring of data centers which can get inside electronic systems during equipment reorganization and movement and can also cause systems failure.Even though the topic of metal whiskers as reliability failure has been around for several decades to date, there is no successful method that can eliminate their growth. This thesis will give further insights towards the nature and behavior of Sn and Zn whiskers growth, and recommend a novel manufacturing technique that has potential to mitigate metal whiskers growth and extend life of many electronic devices.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Gullapalli, Vikranth
Partner: UNT Libraries