NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Experiment 3

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Experiment #3: Future Work (not yet started)

Characterize the Effectiveness of Uralane 5750 Conformal Coat Material in Preventing the Formation of a Sustained Plasma Arc Initiated by a Tin Whisker Short Circuit in a Vacuum Environment


Several experimenters have demonstrated the risk of formation of a sustained plasma arc in vacuum resulting from a tin whisker short.  Such a plasma has been shown to be capable of carrying hundreds of Amperes.  This experiment will attempt to determine the effectiveness of Uralane 5750 conformal coat at preventing and/or quenching the formation of such a plasma.  If possible, actual tin whiskers grown during experiment #2 will be used in this experiment.  Additional approaches to artificially generate tin whiskers for this experiment are also being considered.  In this experiment conformally coated tin plated substrates with tin whiskers protruding from the coating will be placed inside of a vacuum chamber.  A power source (several lead-acid batteries connected in series) will be shorted out by the tin whisker.  Observations and measurements will determine if the whiskers fuse open prior to formation of a plasma and a determination will be made about whether the conformal coat inhibits or promotes plasma formation.

Responsible NASA Officials:

   Michael Sampson/NASA GSFC Code 306
   Dr. Henning Leidecker/NASA GSFC Code 562
Additional Researchers: 

   Jong Kadesch/Orbital Sciences Corp.
   Jay Brusse/QSS Group, Inc.

Last Updated:

April 20, 2005

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