Atomic layer deposition (ALD) for environmental protection and whisker mitigation of electronic assemblies

Caterina Soldano*, Mark A. Ashworth, Geoffrey D. Wilcox, Terho Kutilainen, Jussi Hokka, Jaan Praks, Marko Pudas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we demonstrate how metal-oxide thin-film conformal coatings grown by atomic layer deposition (ALD) can be exploited as an effective approach to mitigate tin whisker growth on printed circuit boards. First, we study the effect of different ALD coatings and process parameters on Sn–Cu-electroplated test coupons, by combining optical imaging and scanning electron microscopy and evaluating whisker distribution on the surface. On these samples, we found that one important parameter in mitigating whisker growth is the time interval between electroplating and the ALD coating process (pre-coat time), which should be kept of the order of few days (2, based on our results). Atomic layer-deposited coatings were also found to be effective toward whisker formation in different storage conditions. Furthermore, we show that ALD coating is also effective in limiting the need for outgassing of electronic assemblies (PCBAs), which is an additional stringent requirement for applications in space industry. Our experimental results thus demonstrated that atomic layer deposition is a suitable technique for aerospace applications, both in terms of degassing and whisker mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113 - 126
Number of pages14
JournalCEAS Space Journal
Issue number1
Early online date18 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Atomic layer deposition (ALD)
  • Conformal coating
  • Mitigation
  • PCBA
  • Tin whiskers


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