CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, 23 Aug. 2012. Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) has been awarded a research contract from the Department of Defense's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program for the Tin Whiskers Inorganic Coatings Evaluation (TWICE) program. The goal of this research is 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, thinner than a human hair, that are capable of bridging great distances. This can create short-circuits leading to equipment failures.
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This project hopes to 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.
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.