The removal of the lead from the solder of semiconductor devices can cause and expedite the growth of tin whiskers. When lead is not mixed with the alloy, residual stress on the surface of semiconductor packaging leads can cause the growth of these crystalline structures. This creates a potential source of electrical shorting and arcing in chips. Tin whiskers have caused total system failures in computers, cell phones, missiles, and satellites. Analysts predict that these issues will become more frequent in this new solder-free semiconductor era.
The Phenom desktop scanning electron microscopes provide an excellent tool for the inspection of semiconductors. The Phenom SEM can, due to its unique navigation method, easily find these potential failures. The Phenom can also play an important role in the packaging industry by verifying the wire bonding or solder bump quality inspection. With the backscattered detector, it is very easy to detect contamination but also the shape of the solder bump.