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Electric field stimulated growth of Zn whiskers
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We have investigated the impact of strong (∼104 V/cm) electric fields on the development of Zn
whiskers. The original samples, with considerable whisker infestation were cut from Zn-coated steel floors and then exposed to electric fields stresses for 10-20 hours at room temperature. We used various electric field sources, from charges accumulated in samples irradiated by: (1) the electron beam of a scanning electron microscope
(SEM), (2) the electron beam of a medical
linear accelerator, and (3) the ion beam of a linear accelerator; we also used (4) the electric field produced by a Van der Graaf generator. In all cases, the exposed samples exhibited a considerable (tens of percent) increase in whiskers concentration compared to the control sample. The acceleration factor defined as the ratio of the measured whisker growth rate over that in zero field, was estimated to approach several hundred. The statistics of lengths of e-beam induced whiskers was found to follow the log-normal distribution known previously for metal whiskers. The observed accelerated whisker growth is attributed to electrostatic effects. These results offer promise for establishing whisker-related accelerated life testing protocols.
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