SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cybersecurity Requires an Active Approach

I last wrote about cybersecurity nearly 10 years ago in a column titled “Cybersecurity—from Boardroom to Factory Floor.” So, where do we stand on cybersecurity? As the digital world continues pushing ahead, it comes with new challenges in the cyberspace. Individual systems and/or infrastructure systems are subject to attacks by increasingly savvy adversaries who can leverage new and emerging technologies.

A cyberattack can be surreptitiously detrimental, crippling business operations, the national economy and security, or just jeopardizing an individual laptop. This pervasive and persistent security threat is one of the most formidable challenges of our times.

In my 2013 column, I stated: “Cyberattacks will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if.’ It is not industry-specific; every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier that preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack. The most insidious nature of a cyberattack is that it could happen anywhere at any time without physical boundaries across national borders.” Indeed, potential hacking is timeless and borderless.

Under this backdrop, is it feasible to reach the level of being un-hackable? And what does it take to reach that level of security? Practically speaking, “un-hackability” is a relative term, which is a moving target as well. In other words, it relies on whether we can alleviate the weak and vulnerable link(s) in the system, set the strategy, and practice to outsmart and outpace the potential adversaries.

The foundational pillars behind an un-hackable system are hardware, software, data, computing, communication, human, and integration. Each of these pillars must surpass the anticipated capabilities of potential hackers. A holistic cybersecurity needs to embrace all types of security capabilities including:

  • Critical infrastructure security
  • Application security
  • Network security
  • Cloud security
  • Edge (IoT) security

Also in my 2013 column, I mentioned, “Under a savvy and diligent governing board oversight, a cyber culture can be cultivated over time with persistent and pervasive effort by considering the following 20 actionable items.” The 20th item called out in that article was to “Keep pace with emerging technologies.”

Omnipotent Technologies
What are game-changing technologies behind the cybersecurity capabilities? Take artificial intelligence as an illustration. I’m reluctant to mention the phrase “artificial intelligence” as lately it has become household vernacular. However, AI brings “ammunition” against attacks. In practice, AI and computing power are intimately intertwined. With the recent acceleration of computing power, the advancement of AI is expected to gain momentum, although fundamental breakthroughs must still be made to reach the next level of performance.

This emerging technology also comes with risks as AI enables another level of attack abilities. The logical question is what the plausible strategies and methodologies are to integrate AI into the security infrastructure in a timely fashion that will fend off an AI-empowered attack. It is worth noting that defense is one thing and offense is another; one must be able to go on the offensive as well as defend.

Another illustration is quantum mechanics. While “quantum” has also been overused as well, it works here. A quantum computer’s omnipotent computing power, in virtue of quantum’s “quirky and spooky” nature of superposition and entanglement, can solve problems that are far too complex for classical computers and supercomputers to figure out in a finite timeframe. Even the processors with trillions of transistors are falling way behind.

The potential impact of quantum computing on cybersecurity is profound and is expected to transform cybersecurity and change the global landscape. Its anticipated capabilities pose a significant threat to cybersecurity infrastructure, as it can disrupt current encryption systems, requiring a change in how the data are encrypted. This includes solving the algorithms behind encryption keys that protect the data and the internet's infrastructure.

The public key cryptosystem, RSA, has been widely used for secure data transmission. As of now, not one individual, company, or a country has reached or even is near to the level of the computing capability in qubits required to totally disrupt the current encryption system. Reportedly, a quantum computer would need to be as large as 70 million qubits to break that encryption. IBM1 and Google2, among others, have roadmaps to achieve 1 million qubits by 2030. Nonetheless, indisputably, a leader in quantum computing holds the omnipotent key. The competitive race is fiercely marching on.

Global Race
Speaking of the race, in 2016 China blasted the world’s first quantum communication satellite into orbit from the Gobi Desert. “The newly-launched satellite marked a transition in China’s role—from a follower in classic information technology (IT) development to one of the leaders guiding future IT achievements,” said Pan Jianwei, chief scientist of Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) project with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) 3. With the help of the new satellite, scientists are testing quantum key distribution between the satellite and ground stations and conducting secure quantum communications. QUESS is designed to establish “hack-proof” quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground and provide insights into the strangest phenomenon in quantum physics—quantum entanglement.

Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security by exploiting the quirky properties of subatomic particles, as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. Thus, it is impossible to wiretap, intercept, or crack the information transmitted through it.

In upcoming decades, it remains to be seen who will win the quantum computing or quantum communication. All embracingly, it appears to indicate that the disruptive quantum computing abilities are still many years away. One thing for sure is that we must address security in the quantum world. This is valid and critical.

The Role of Hardware
For our industry, it would be remiss not to call out hardware. Hardware technologies to increase the bandwidth and capacity within the desired power and thermal envelope, including processor, memory, GPU, interconnect, among others, make the applications of AI feasible. In hardware chips, the system design, development, manufacturing, and the supply chain that enable the functions and performance of the omnipotent technologies are the critical part of the equation. On top of hardware for machine learning, the hardware for “deeper” learning abilities requires integrating the natural language processing and neural network that mimic the functionality and connectivity of neurons in the human brain in the hardware system, which is yet to evolve.

Other Than Technologies
To defend against hackers (human, machine, human-machine teaming), in addition to technologies, other key elements of establishing a resilient cybersecurity system include people talents, sound policies, and effective processes to tackle the challenges of the complex and ever-changing cyber-physical-human infrastructure.

In a nutshell, to be un-hackable, always be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to stay one step ahead of hackers—not only to react, but to anticipate and to envisage.

Reference

  1. “IBM plans a huge leap in superfast quantum computing by 2023,” by Robert Hackett, Fortune Magazine, Sept. 15, 2020.
  2. “Quantum computing is entering a new dimension,” by Robert Hackett, Fortune Magazine, Dec. 3, 2020.
  3. “What the World’s First Quantum Satellite Launch Means,” by Robert Hackett, Fortune Magazine, Aug. 16, 2016.

 

Appearances

Dr. Hwang will deliver two professional development courses: “Solder Joint Reliability—Principle and Practice,” from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 22, and “Preventing Product Failure and Manufacturing Defects,” from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 23, at IPC APEX EXPO 2023 in San Diego, California.

This column originally appeared in the November 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

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2022

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cybersecurity Requires an Active Approach

11-22-2022

I last wrote about cybersecurity nearly 10 years ago in my column, “Cybersecurity—from Boardroom to Factory Floor.” So, where do we stand on cybersecurity? As the digital world continues pushing ahead, it comes with new challenges in the cyberspace. Individual systems and/or infrastructure systems are subject to attacks by increasingly savvy adversaries who can leverage new and emerging technologies. A cyberattack can be surreptitiously detrimental, crippling business operation, the national economy and security, or just jeopardizing an individual laptop. This pervasive and persistent security threat is one of the most formidable challenges of our times.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: In Search of Wisdom

08-10-2022

After two-year COVID-19 hiatus, I made a point to attend the Berkshire Hathaway (BH) shareholders annual meeting in person, so I could listen to legend Warren Buffett and observe the dynamic of the aspiring people from all walks of life. The event was full of high-spirited, eager attendees; it was quite festive as well. Buffet, now age 91, and his long-time business partner Charlie Munger, age 98, are as sharp, quick-witted, and as humorous as ever. Their deep and profound thought process and broad-based knowledge are inspiring. It was a completely worthy trip; I personally felt intellectually nourished. Their investment wisdom is vividly manifested by the indisputably phenomenal results.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Critical Materials—A Compelling Case, Part 2

05-03-2022

When I wrote Part 1 on this topic in January, the global geopolitical landscape could be characterized as “status quo”—testy, challenging, yet absent of “war” in any region of the world. Now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which elevates the peril and uncertainty of metals, minerals and materials into overdrive, the title of the article may warrant: “Critical Materials – A Precariously Escalated Compelling Case.”

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Critical Materials, A Compelling Case, Part 1

02-23-2022

It has come the time for a national strategy, in a deliberative and comprehensive manner, to address the critical materials/minerals. Doing so is increasingly critical to the long-term economy, national security, and the nation’s global competitiveness. With the handling of conflict minerals as an exemplar, there is perhaps an even more urgent need to rally another concerted effort to tackle the critical materials/minerals. Overall, critical materials/minerals will have an overarching impact on the entire supply chain to all industries, and once again, electronics/microelectronics is on the front line.

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2021

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Reliability Primer—A Pragmatic SMT Perspective

10-18-2021

When we look at the reliability of a product, be it associated with a physical product or virtual service, there is a set of performance expected from the users or the customers.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Digital Manufacturing—Just-in-Case or Just-in-Time

07-20-2021

Under the dynamic global-macro factors and the burgeoning digital manufacturing platforms, the construct that is solely based on just-in-time inventory management as a stand-alone practice could be proven inadequate. Considering both just-in-time and just-in-case appear to be a pragmatic model to operate in the digitized enterprise; perhaps a “comforting” approach as well.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Ebullient Trade Events Going Virtual

02-04-2021

Jennie Hwang reflects on past and current versions of CES and IPC APEX EXPO, and outlines her two presentations at APEX.

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2020

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Joint Industry Standard IPC J-STD-00-Electronic Solder Alloys, Part 2

10-01-2020

In Part 2 of her column series on requirements for electronic-grade solder alloys and fluxed and non-fluxed solid solders for electronic soldering applications, Jennie Hwang addresses questions raised regarding the subject industry standard IPC J-STD-006. She also summarizes relevant background information, the options for plausible naming systems, and the logic behind the decision to adopt the current naming system.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Rethinking Manufacturing–Bracing for and Embracing a Post-Pandemic Decade

07-28-2020

Against the potent backdrop of current events, how should our industry respond? How should we manage and rethink manufacturing? And what are the main issues at hand in near-term and long-term horizons? Dr. Jennie Hwang explores these questions, as well as three tangible areas of business and manufacturing.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Smart Factory Implementation—How Smart Is Smart Enough?

04-13-2020

As we are moving further into the Industry 4.0 era, rigidity is out, and flexibility is in; stiffness is out, and agility is in; and sluggishness is out, and swiftness is in. Dr. Jennie Hwang explains how manufacturing companies need to develop a thorough understanding of the available technologies that can be utilized to translate business objectives into business roadmaps targeting operational excellence to produce competitive, reliable, and economic products that perform in a timely fashion in the marketplace.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Joint Industry Standard IPC J-STD-006—Electronic Solder Alloys

01-02-2020

It has been nearly two decades since the global electronics industry adopted lead-free conversion from leaded electronics. Readers who have been in the industry during this period will recognize the changes and challenges the industry has faced and appreciate the fact that taking the element lead (Pb) out of electronics has not been a straightforward path.

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2019

SMT Perspectives and Prospects—Revisiting Globalization: Technology, Jobs, Trade

11-21-2019

In 2004, Dr. Jennie Hwang wrote a column titled “Globalization: Technology, Jobs, Trade,” which was published in the July issue of SMT007 Magazine. Amid the protracted and roller-coaster trade uncertainty between the U.S. and China, and the renewed debate on globalization, she revisits the topic. What has changed over the last 15 years? Where do we stand today? Is globalization undergoing a retreat or reverse course?

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Learn From the Wise

07-12-2019

How can we get ahead in this digital world inundated with a gargantuan amount of information available to all? More sustainably, how can we stay ahead of the curve? Knowledge and wisdom are the fuel to propel us ahead; learning from the wise is the speedier path to acquire the fuel.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 6

05-10-2019

In this installment of this column series on the role of bismuth (Bi) in electronic products, Dr. Jennie Hwang looks at the effects of Bi on the properties and performance of solder interconnections in electronic products when Bi is not contained in the solder alloy for the SMT assembly process (Bi-absent solder alloy composition of solder paste).

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 5

03-07-2019

The fifth part of this column series addresses the most interesting, yet intricate, aspect of the subject—plausible underlying operating mechanisms among the four elements (Sn, Ag, Cu, Bi) in a SnAgCuBi system. This article features illustrations on relative elemental dosages in relation to relevant properties and performance.

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2018

SMT Manufacturing: Why Soldering?

11-15-2018

Upcoming AI hardware requires advanced semiconductors, packaging approaches, new architectures, increased speeds and capabilities of inference processing, and system design and manufacturing prowess continually developed to reach the interconnect density. Against this backdrop, packaging and assembly levels will continue to be critical technology and serve as the backbone of manufacturing electronic hardware to deliver desired products with enhanced miniaturization, functionality, and augmented intelligence promptly.

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Artificial Intelligence: Super-Exciting, Ultra-Competitive

09-18-2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become common everyday words, however, the present reality and future potential are yet to evolve. This article looks into the key considerations and strategies to better leverage these trends that are expected to transform the manufacturing world.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 3

08-08-2018

The third part of this column series aims to answer why SAC isn't able to become a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offer a more wholesome approach.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 4

06-04-2018

Dr. Jennie Hwang's column series continues in Part 4, which addresses two pivotal questions: Why SAC is not able to be a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offers a more wholesome approach.

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New Year Resolutions and Best Wishes

03-12-2018

The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. But the true challenge is to keep these goals from falling into a wish list and to know how to stick to those goals and when. I hope that in this year to come, goals give us direction in whatever we do, be it on AI, 5G, mixed reality and quantum computing or the next chip design.

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2017

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 2

12-08-2017

Part 2 of Dr. Jennie Hwang's article series outlines the Bi effects on 63Sn37Pb solder material, which have been substantiated by years of field performance prior to lead-free implementation. This should serve as the sound baseline for further discussion on the subject.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 1

10-17-2017

In this column series about bismuth, Dr. Jennie Hwang starts with its elemental properties: where it is usually mined, its safety data, and application areas—in the chemical world, the metals industry, and electronics. She also writes about how bismuth compounds improve the performance some electronics devices, such as varistors.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics: A Prelude

08-24-2017

When it comes to considering applications in electronics and microelectronics industry, over last three decades, the industry has shied away from using bismuth (Bi), at least not in standard practices in mass production. However, an interest has surfaced recently. This article series is tailored to electronics and microelectronics industry, to provide an overview in its entirety in the areas of importance to industry applications going forward.

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Do Acquisitions Bear Fruit? A Pragmatic Perspective

05-02-2017

Acquisition is an effective tool for a company’s growth as a part of corporate growth strategy; and it is one of the top fiduciary duties of a company board’s governance oversight. However, statistically, the acquisition failure rate is quite high. In her column this month, Dr. Jennie Hwang reflects on her hands-on experience as well as observations on mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world.

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2016

The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 5

11-23-2016

In this installment of the series on the theory behind tin whisker phenomena, Dr. Jennie Hwang completes the discussion of key processes likely engaged in tin whisker growth—crystal structure and defects.

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New Year Outlook: China’s Five Year Plan

01-25-2016

In this article, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes about the latest developments in the current global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends, which include: the highlights of macro-economy outlook, China factor, oil dynamics, cyber security, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.

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2015

A Look at the Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 3

11-05-2015

The third installation in Jennie Hwang's five-part series on tin whisker phenomena continues the discussion on key processes engaged in tin whisker growth. She discusses the energy of free surface, recrystallization, and the impact of solubility and external temperature on grain growth.

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The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 2

08-06-2015

In the second part of this article series, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes that a plausible theory of tin whisker growth can be postulated through deliberating the combination and confluence of several key metallurgical processes.

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The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 1

05-27-2015

In this first article of a five-part series, Dr. Jennie Hwang goes back to basics as she discusses the theory behind the tin whisker phenomena--the reasons and mechanisms behind its occurrence--as well as how tin whiskers can be mitigated in the plating process.

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New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2015?

03-04-2015

Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends in selected areas deemed timely and relevant to the industry: macro-economy, oil dynamics, China factor, cybersecurity, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.

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2014

2014: Year-end Review

12-31-2014

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang reviews how predictions in her January 2014 column actually panned out. She goes through the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of macroeconomics, business environment, technology, and the global marketplace. By and large her 2014 outlook was on or close to target.

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Tin Whiskers, Part 6, Preventive and Mitigating Measures: Strategy and Tactics

09-24-2014

In this installment of the tin whisker series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a look at the preventive and mitigating measures--the strategy and tactics. She says an effective strategy for prevention and mitigation starts with a good understanding of the causations of tin whiskers. A smorgasbord of material and technique options are offered as a guide to prevent or retard tin whiskers.

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Capsulization

08-06-2014

Since lead-free implementation, concerns about tin whiskers have intensified. For the past 12 years, studies and research by various laboratories and organizations have delivered burgeoning reports and papers, and Dr. Hwang has devoted an entire series to this subject. This article aims to capsulize the important areas of the subject.

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Tin Whiskers, Part 5: Impact of Testing Conditions

05-21-2014

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang says, "Real-life stresses may lead a different tin whisker behavior as in accelerated tests (temperature cycling, elevated temperature storage). The alloy-making process to achieve homogeneity needs to be taken into consideration. For an 'impurity' system, how the process that adds elements into tin could also affect the whisker propensity."

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Tin Whiskers, Part 4: Causes and Contributing Factors

03-26-2014

According to Columnist Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, nucleation and growth can be encouraged by stresses introduced during and after the plating process. The sources of these stresses includes residual stresses caused by electroplatin, additional stresses imposed after plating, the induced stresses by foreign elements, and thermally-induced stresses.

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New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2014?

01-29-2014

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated 2014 global economic landscape, as well as technological trends in selected areas important to the SMT industry. Readers, pay attention--her predictions for 2013 were extremely accurate.

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2013, A Year-End Review

01-09-2014

For this year-in-review column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang checks on whether her January 2013 column, "Outlook for the New Year," is on or off target. She addresses the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of business environment, technology, and global marketplace to see how her predictions actually panned out.

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2013

Tin Whiskers: Concerns & Potential Impact

11-26-2013

What is the biggest concern about the growth of tin whiskers? A simple answer is "uncertainty." If or when tin whiskering occurs, what are likely sources of uncertainty or potential adverse impact? Dr. Jennie Hwang explains that concerns and impact concerning tin whiskers primarily fall into one of four categories.

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Tin Whiskers: Phenomena and Observations

10-09-2013

Tin whisker reflects its coined name. It has long been recognized to be associated with electroplated tin coating and most likely occurs with pure tin. Its appearance resembles whiskers. However, whiskers can also form in a wide range of shapes and sizes, such as fibrous filament-like spiral, nodule, column, and mound.

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Cyber Security: From Boardroom to Factory Floor

08-21-2013

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cyber Security - From Boardroom to Factory Floor

08-21-2013

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.

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Tin Whiskers: Clarity First

06-11-2013

Lead-free solder comprises a wide array of alloy systems and each system can be modified in numerous ways. A test scheme to represent lead-free is a daunting task with an astounding price tag. Dr. Jennie Hwang advises that any tin whisker propensity study be conducted with a specific alloy composition, as clarity is the name of the game.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Conflict Minerals: A Snapshot

04-03-2013

As the supply chain becomes increasingly complex and global, with an ever-increasing number of suppliers, full traceability of conflict minerals throughout the global supply chain is a daunting task. To comply with the SEC’s reporting and disclosure requirement, a company must formulate a comprehensive program to achieving traceability and transparency.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: SAC System, A Revisit

03-13-2013

In compliance with the RoHS Directive initiated by the EU and later deployed globally, SAC305 of SnAgCu (SAC) system has been used as a lead-free solder interconnection alloy for both second- and third-level interconnection since the implementation of lead-free electronics. After a 10-year run, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a look at SAC305 for IC packages and PCB assembly.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Outlook for the New Year

02-06-2013

After protracted high unemployment and lack of a speedy recovery in the U.S., and in the absence of clear solutions to the Eurozone's financial crisis and China's lower manufacturing activities in 2012, will the grim global economic outlook extend to 2013?

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 2012 Year-End Review

01-16-2013

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang compares the past year to predictions made in her January 2012 column, "What Can We Expect in 2012?" including business, technology, and global marketplace issues. She feels that, overall, 2012 was another intriguing year filled with both wanted and unwanted events.

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2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part IV

11-27-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability. The focus of this offering is the role of the phase diagram in microstructure.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part III

11-06-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part I

09-11-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang begins a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 100 Points on Lead-Free Performance and Reliability, Part 2

08-21-2012

In the final of a two-part series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a wide, sweeping look at the history, timeline, highlights, and future projections for lead-free manufacturing.

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2011

Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part II, The Role of Creep

10-26-2011

The degradation of a solder joint is inevitable. The solder joint intrinsic degradation process engages two scientific phenomena--fatigue and creep. In this article, industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system with a closer examination of the latter.

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Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part I, Solder Joint Fatigue

09-14-2011

Industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system this month with a closer examination of solder joint fatigue. Fatigue is one of the most likely culprits for material failure--regardless of metals, polymers or ceramics.

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