Whisker growth from an electroplated zinc coating

Abstract

The formation of Zn whiskers threatens the reliable operation of electronic equipment with an electrical shorting hazard. As with tin whiskers (much more intensively researched than Zn whiskers), the mechanism of formation is still not clear. This work investigated the Zn whisker growth mechanism for an electroplated Zn coating above a carbon steel substrate from a raised floor tile. Iron–zinc (Fe–Zn) intermetallic and Zn oxides were identified by x-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). Fe–Zn intermetallic compounds formed on the surface of the Zn layer in addition to the interface between the Zn coating and the steel substrate. Zn oxides formed primarily on the surface of the Zn coating. Fe–Zn intermetallic compounds and Zn oxide formation can be the source of a residual stress that promotes Zn diffusion to the surface of electroplated Zn coating, resulting in the formation of Zn whiskers.

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Correspondence to Alongheng Baated.

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Baated, A., Kim, KS. & Suganuma, K. Whisker growth from an electroplated zinc coating. Journal of Materials Research 25, 2175–2182 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1557/jmr.2010.0273

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