IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON COMPONENTS, PACKAGING AND MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 2, NO. 5, MAY 20121

Comparative Study of Metal Films and Their Affinity for Metal Whisker Growth

Aleksandra Fortier and Michael G. Pecht

Abstract:

The problem of tin (Sn) whiskers has been a significant reliability issue in electronics for the past several decades. Despite the large amount of research conducted on this issue, the growth of whiskers remains a challenge for the research community. A comparative study of different metal whiskers could provide a deeper insight toward the development of more permanent mitigation strategies for Sn whisker growth. In this paper, the surface and micro-structural evolution of various film/substrate combinations of 10-m thick zinc (Zn) and Sn metal films and their affinity for whisker growth were observed under two environmental conditions ambient temperature and elevated temperature of 55 C and 85% humidity. The films were analysed using a scanning electron microscope, focused ion beam, and electron dispersive spectroscope. In addition, several decades aged samples with Zn, Sn, and cadmium films with a high density population of whiskers were observed for comparison.

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