They’re responsible for damage to nuclear reactors and space satellites. Our researchers will explore the secrets of tin whiskers (because that’s what we are talking about) as part of our R&D service for the European Space Agency ESA. Project acronym: WHISFUSE (“Current capacity and effects of the vacuum of tin whiskers.”)
Whiskers grow spontaneously directly from the surface of metals as a form of relaxation of internal stresses. They can be even as long as a centimeter! And since they can conduct electricity, they can unfortunately cause short circuits. It is estimated that one in several equipment malfunctions is caused by their occurrence. Yes, tin whiskers are such little destroyers.
Researchers are not only focused on finding the cause of their occurrence but also want to learn more about their electrical conductivity, which they will do as part of the abovementioned service.
The project will be developed by a Spanish-Hungarian-Polish consortium, it will be coordinated by the Acting Director of the Center for Functional Materials: Agata Skwarek, PhD, DSc, will last 18 months and will be carried out by two of our Research Groups:
– LTCC technology – a group led by Beata Synkiewicz-Musialska, PhD,
– and Characterization of Materials and Devices by Paweł Michałowski, PhD, DSc.
P.S. This is another project of our Institute for ESA after the Rosetta (Europe’s comet chaser) mission where we have developed and made a harpoon housing and heaters for the MUPUS device, which, after a ten-year flight covering a distance of 6 billion km, landed on the comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Another truly cosmic project is Juice (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer). In 2018, at the request of Astronika, we made several dozen pieces of special pads for the Langmuir probe placed in the JUICE space probe. You know what? Most of them were destroyed during research to determine the limits of their capabilities and durability. Eventually, two were mounted on the probe and sent into space last Friday.
„The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft has taken its first “selfies” from space, catching stunning images with Earth as a backdrop” – this is what we can read on www.space.com on the project we’re kind of part of.
*Tin whiskers photo courtesy of www.esa.int – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0