[AMRadio] Tin whiskers?

Merz Donald S merz.ds at mellon.com
Wed Feb 2 13:43:43 EST 2005

So what's the deal with this "tin whiskers" crisis? Fortune magazine on January 10 carried a report (p. 27) on "Tin Whiskers". It seems that the tin in solder grows microscopic "whiskers" over time and as component placement gets ever smaller, scientists are seeing equipment failures from these whiskers causing shorts between 2 connections. The growth of these whiskers has something to do with surface tension and has been observed for over 50 years. Lead apparently inhibits whisker growth. But now the EU has mandated that all lead be eliminated from electronic products by July 1, 2006. Fortune seems to feel that the rest of the world will ultimately follow this lead and so the problem of tin whiskers could get much worse.

I never heard of this before. This is one of those articles that makes me look at the date on the magazine to see if it is from April. But apparently it's real. Fortune calls it the next "Y2K" issue for modern technology.

73, Don Merz, N3RHT
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