On April 17 2005, the Millstone nuclear generating plant in Connecticut shut down when a circuit board monitoring a steam pressure line short-circuited. “Tin whiskers” – microscopic growths of the metal from soldering points on a circuit board – were blamed for causing the problem. These whiskers are comprised of nearly pure tin, and are therefore electrically conductive.
Field failures attributable to tin whiskers have cost individual programs many millions of dollars each. As a result, manufacturers of high-reliability systems are forced to use Monte Carlo simulation models to decide whether the use of tin poses an acceptable risk in a given application.
Recently a group of NASA scientists lead by Karim J. Courey, a Principal Engineer with the Orbiter Sustaining Engineering Office, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, used our distribution fitting software EasyFit to better understand the underlying process and develop a probability model that can be used to improve existing Monte Carlo risk simulation models… read the full case study