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Title: The probabilistic distribution of metal whisker lengths

Significant reliability concerns in multiple industries are related to metal whiskers, which are random high aspect ratio filaments growing on metal surfaces and causing shorts in electronic packages. We derive a closed form expression for the probabilistic distribution of metal whisker lengths. Our consideration is based on the electrostatic theory of metal whiskers, according to which whisker growth is interrupted when its tip enters a random local “dead region” of a weak electric field. Here, we use the approximation neglecting the possibility of thermally activated escapes from the “dead regions,” which is later justified. We predict a one-parameter distribution with a peak at a length that depends on the metal surface charge density and surface tension. In the intermediate range, it fits well the log-normal distribution used in the experimental studies, although it decays more rapidly in the range of very long whiskers. In addition, our theory quantitatively explains how the typical whisker concentration is much lower than that of surface grains. Finally, it predicts the stop-and-go phenomenon for some of the whiskers growth.
Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22492979
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Applied Physics; Journal Volume: 118; Journal Issue: 20; Other Information: (c) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; ABUNDANCE; ASPECT RATIO; CHARGE DENSITY; CRYSTAL GROWTH; DISTRIBUTION; ELECTRIC FIELDS; FILAMENTS; METALS; PROBABILISTIC ESTIMATION; RELIABILITY; SURFACE TENSION; WHISKERS