Just as a tiny blood clot can fell a seemingly hale human, a tin whisker can bring an electronic device to its knees, writes C&EN senior editor Sophie L. Rovner. Electrical shorts caused by growth of these needle-like crystals have knocked out guided missiles and communications satellites, shut down a nuclear power plant, and caused heart pacemakers to fail.
Tin whiskers have been a technological headache for more than 60 years, the article notes. The problem is growing more serious, however, due to increased societal dependence on electronics devices and government regulations limiting use of lead, which discourages whisker formation.
Rovner describes the massive scope of the tin whisker problem, and the research counter offense being launched by scientists.
ARTICLE #5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, July 16, 2007
Stopping the Tin Whisker Stalkers
This story will be available on July 16 at http://pubs.acs.org/cen/government/85/8527gov1.html
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The 2006 ACS annual report, A New Vision at Work, can be a valuable resource for journalists trying to keep pace with chemistry and the multiple fields of science that involve chemistry. The report features a series of commentaries by chemists, includi
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