Definition

zinc whiskers

Zinc whiskers are tiny growths of elemental zinc that form on the surfaces of objects that are electroplated, or galvanized, with zinc. When present on circuit boards or other electronic objects, zinc whiskers can cause short circuits that are difficult to diagnose. Objects that can develop zinc whiskers include nuts and bolts, steel conduits, sheet metal, metal railings, and certain types of tile flooring.

Like tin whiskers, a similar phenomenon, zinc whiskers break loose and become airborne when surfaces are mechanically disturbed. Ordinary daily activity is sufficient to cause this, particularly in zinc-plated raised tile floors. Zinc is an excellent conductor of electricity. Zinc whiskers settle like dust on circuit boards and other electronic components. Eventually, they can cause short circuits, resulting in equipment malfunction or failure.

Zinc-whisker-related problems can be difficult to diagnose, because the particles disintegrate when a short circuit occurs. In addition, unless technicians are aware that this phenomenon can occur, it may not be suspected as a potential source of trouble.

This was last updated in June 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Email Alerts

Register now to receive SearchDataCenter.com-related news, tips and more, delivered to your inbox.
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

More News and Tutorials

Do you have something to add to this definition? Let us know.

Send your comments to techterms@whatis.com

There are Comments. Add yours.

 
TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: