Journal of Electronic Materials

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 2029-2034

First online:

Internal Microstructure Investigation of Tin Whisker Growth Using FIB Technology

  • Aleksandra FortierAffiliated withCollege of Engineering, University of North Texas Email author 
  • , Radovan KovacevicAffiliated withSchool of Engineering, Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Southern Methodist University

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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, a solution for mitigating the growth of whiskers remains a challenge for the research community. Whiskers have unpredictable growth and morphology, and a study of a whisker’s internal structure may provide further insights into the reason behind their complex growth. This study reports on the internal microstructure and morphology of complex-shaped Sn whiskers grown from an electroplated bright Sn layer on brass substrates exposed to ambient and 95% humid environment. The variables analyzed include surface and microstructure conditions of the film, and morphology and internal microstructure of the Sn whiskers using scanning electron microscopy with focused ion beam technology. Experimental results demonstrated that the whiskers with more complex morphology grow primarily from surfaces exposed to a controlled environment, and some of them have traits of polycrystalline growth rather than only single crystalline, as usually known.


Sn whisker microstructure polycrystalline morphology scanning electron microscopy (SEM) focused ion beam (FIB)