Tensile behavior of single-crystal tin whiskers

S. S. Singh, R. Sarkar, H. X. Xie, C. Mayer, J. Rajagopalan, N. Chawla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The growth of metallic (predominantly Sn) whiskers from pure metallic platings has been studied for over 50 years. While the phenomenon of Sn whiskering has been studied for decades, very little is known about the mechanical properties of these materials. This can be attributed to the difficulty in handling, gripping, and testing such fine-diameter and high-aspect-ratio whiskers. We report on the stress-strain behavior of Sn whiskers inside a dual-beam focused ion beam (FIB) with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Lift-out of the whiskers was conducted in situ in the FIB, and the whiskers were tested using a microelectromechanical system tensile testing stage. Using this technique, the whiskers had minimum exposure to ambient air and were not handled by hand. SEM images after fracture enabled reliable calculation of the whisker cross-sectional area. Tests on two different whiskers revealed relatively high tensile strengths of 720 MPa and 880 MPa, respectively, and a limited strain to failure of ∼2% to 3%. For both whiskers, the Young's modulus was between 42 GPa and 45 GPa. It is interesting to note that the whiskers were quite strong and had limited ductility. These findings are intriguing and provide a basis for further work to understand the effect of Sn whisker mechanical properties on short circuits in electronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-982
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • MEMS
  • Sn whiskers
  • focused ion beam
  • tensile strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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