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Influence of Quantifiable Extrinsic Stresses on Tin Whisker Growth

[+] Author Affiliations
Chad L. Rodekohr

Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC

George T. Flowers, Michael J. Bozack, Robert N. Dean, Robert L. Jackson, Pradeep Lall

Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Paper No. DETC2009-87849, pp. 827-832; 6 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 22nd Biennial Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, August 30–September 2, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4898-2 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3856-3
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Implementation of Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directives regarding lead (Pb)-free electronics has resulted in the use of Pb-free and tin (Sn)-rich films as board finishes. These films pose serious reliability issues due to spontaneous Sn whisker growth formerly mitigated by the presence of Pb. Tangential compressive stress within thin films has long been cited as a principal cause of whisker growth, but there have been few direct stress measurements reported in the literature. In this study, we have manufactured two precision devices to impose eight known tangential (compressive and tensile) stress levels on Sn/Aluminum (Al) thin film/substrate systems. The results show that large numbers (∼ 103 /cm2 ) of Sn whiskers are present on films subjected to both compressive and tensile extrinsic stresses and the lowest whisker risk occurs in films near the zero stress condition.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME
Topics: Stress



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