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SERDP/ESTCP Webinar: Tin Whisker Basics for Systems Engineers

Presented by:

Dr. Stephan Meschter, BAE Systems, Dr. Michael Osterman, University of Maryland CALCE Center, Dr. Peter Borgesen, Binghamton University, and Dr. Indranath Dutta, Washington State University

Complimentary Webinar!

Register for Sept. 26, 2018

View Slide Deck (pdf)

Recorded Presentation (mp4)

This webinar is aimed at decision-makers with responsibility for the reliability and sustainability of their DoD electronic systems. Unintended/uncontrolled introduction of lead-free electronic parts and assemblies has negatively impacted the DoD in systems. Component manufacturers are for the most part applying tin-rich finishes to the leads of their devices and soldering with lead (Pb)-free solders. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of tin whisker formation that can result in electrical failures. The DoD has unique harsh environment long life systems needs and owns equipment longer than some companies exist. To help the DoD maintain low systems risk while leveraging low cost available commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) have established lead-free solder research programs. The present discussion will focus on tin whisker short circuit risks and mitigation options. Systems engineering specifications that include tin whisker risk mitigation help ensure long term readiness and reliability.

This presentation is the last of three part series which follows the “DoD Program Managers Lead-free Overview webinar” available at http://www.calce.umd.edu/seminars/PM-LF-Webinar-2016-10-12.htm and the “SERDP/ESTCP Webinar: Lead-free Solder Basics for Systems Engineers” available at http://www.calce.umd.edu/seminars/SR-LF-Webinar-2017-03-14.htm.

Topics Covered:

  • Tin whisker growth
  • Systems readiness impacts
    • Short circuits
    • Metal vapor arcing
    Tin whisker mitigation
  • Tin whisker short risk modeling
  • Support resources
About the presenters:

Stephan Meschter is an engineer at BAE Systems Electronic Systems Division in Endicott, NY. He earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Binghamton University and has 30 years of experience in advanced electronic packaging, failure analysis, and reliability testing at BAE Systems and its heritage companies (General Electric, Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin). He has designed and evaluated electronic assemblies for power control, flight control and jet engine control systems used in spacecraft, aircraft and ground vehicles. Dr. Meschter served as a subject matter expert on phase I and II of the 2009 Lead-free Manhattan Project sponsored by Office of Naval Research in conjunction with the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technical Panel (JDMTP). Dr. Meschter is the principal investigator of two U.S. DoD Strategic Environmental Research and Development Projects (SERDP) that are examining corrosion induced whisker growth (WP1753) and conformal coatings for whisker mitigation (WP2213).

Michael Osterman (Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1991) is a Senior Research Scientist and the director of the CALCE Electronic Products and System Consortium at the University of Maryland. He heads the development of simulation assisted reliability assessment software for CALCE and simulation approaches for estimating time to failure of electronic hardware under test and field conditions. Dr. Osterman served as a subject matter expert on phase I and II of the 2009 Lead-free Manhattan Project sponsored by Office of Naval Research in conjunction with the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technical Panel (JDMTP). He has consulted with automotive, medical, defense, and industrial electronic companies on the transition to lead-free materials. He organized and chaired the International Symposium on Tin Whiskers from 2007 to 2015. He has written eight book chapters and over 120 articles. He is a senior member of IEEE and a member of ASME, IMAPS and SMTA.

Peter Borgesen earned a PhD in Physics from University of Aarhus in Denmark, worked at national laboratories there and in Germany, and came to the US in 1986 to work in the Materials Science department at Cornell University. In 1994 he was recruited by Universal Instruments to manage a multi-million dollar process research effort funded by an international consortium of companies from across the electronics industry. After 15 years he left to join Binghamton University (SUNY) where he is a professor of Systems Science & Industrial Engineering and a member of the Materials Science program. Dr. Borgesen served as a subject matter expert on phase I and II of the 2009 Lead-free Manhattan Project sponsored by Office of Naval Research in conjunction with the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technical Panel (JDMTP). He is a principal investigator on SERDP program WP-1751.

Indranath Dutta is Professor and Interim Director of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University (WSU), where he also served as Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Program during 2010-2014 and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture during 2011-2013. He received a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) in 1983, a M.S. from Case Western Reserve University in 1985, and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. Prior to joining WSU, he was Professor of Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School (1988-2008). He has held visiting positions at the Air Force Research Laboratory (1995), the University of Oxford (1996), MOTOROLA (2000), INTEL Corporation (2001), and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2008). He is a Fellow of ASM International. Prof. Dutta's current research is in the area of multi-physics phenomena in multi-component materials systems, with emphasis on materials for microelectronics and meso-to-nanoscale electrically-activated manufacturing processes. He is a principle investigator on SERDP program WP-1751.


The Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE), the largest electronic products and systems research center focused on electronics reliability, is dedicated to providing a knowledge and resource base to support the development of competitive electronic components, products, and systems.

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