Rockwell Collins chosen to lead 'Tin Whiskers' project

Rockwell Collins
August 23, 2012
By Rockwell Collins
Aug. 23, 2012, Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Rockwell Collins has been awarded a research contract from the U.S. Department of Defense's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program for the Tin Whiskers Inorganic Coatings Evaluation (TWICE) program. This research has the potential to mitigate the impact of tin whiskers on high-reliability, high-performance electronic systems caused by new lead-free alloys and finishes in the aerospace and defense supply chain and manufacturing systems.

The transition to lead-free electronics has changed some of the ground rules for designing reliable electronics for use in harsh environments. One of the most significant changes has been the need to address the phenomenon of tin whiskers, which can grow from the pure tin surfaces commonly used on lead-free devices. Tin whiskers are microscopic metal fibers that are thinner than a human hair capable of bridging great distances that can create short-circuits leading to equipment failures.

This project will lead to a better scientific understanding of the mechanisms by which tin whiskers form and how they can be controlled with conformal coatings. Rockwell Collins will develop materials and the necessary processes to generate coatings that mitigate tin whisker growth on a variety of surfaces over a wide range of environmental conditions.

"This selection is recognition of our company's continued leadership in research and development of materials and processes that are needed for lead-free electronics usage in high-reliability, high-performance aerospace and defense systems," said John Borghese, vice president of the Rockwell Collins Advance Technology Center.

Rockwell Collins is leading a team that includes Plasma Ruggedized Solutions and the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering in this effort.

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