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FEBRUARY 2021 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 19 derstanding the factors that affect tin whisker growth and its testing challenges will be out- lined. e practical tin whisker criteria for re- liability implications in the lead-free environ- ment and the relative effectiveness of mitigat- ing measures will be ranked. Second Course: Reliability of Electronics— Role of Intermetallic Compounds As intermetallic compounds (IMCs) play an increasingly critical role in the performance and reliability of solder interconnections in the chip level, package level and board level of lead-free electronics, the second course ex- pands the content coverage on the role of in- termetallic compounds in the reliability of electronic products. is course covers the relevant and impor- tant aspects of intermetallic compounds rang- ing from scientific fundamentals to practical application scenarios. I will examine IMCs be- fore solder joint formation, during solder joint formation and aer solder joint formation in storage and during service. Intermetallics at- interface and in-bulk, as well as the role of PCB surface finish/component coating in relation to intermetallics, in turn, to reliability will be discussed. e difference between SnPb and Pb-free solder joints in terms of intermetallic compounds, which affects production-floor phenomena and the actual field failure, will be outlined. e course will also address the rele- vant aspects of newer lead-free alloys that were recently introduced to the market. e virtual setting of the APEX EXPO 2021 will be unique. However, it is the intent to make my courses interactive and lively. More impor- tantly, attendees are encouraged to bring their own issues relevant to the topics for deliber- ation; questions and comments are warmly welcomed. On a lighter note, in this virtual environ- ment, one unintended "fringe benefit" is that the sore feet caused by walking for many hours a day on the expansive and enticing show floor will be spared, while we still can see, learn, observe the exhibits, and interact with the ex- hibitors on the show floor through the virtual platform. As I sied through my previous writings re- lated to IPC APEX EXPO, I want to share what I wrote in March 2001: "Reflections from APEX 2001, "… As I strolled on the exhibit floor, Siemens proudly and confidently demonstrated their newest equipment that offers the capability and precision in handling 0201 components. With the robust market demand in wireless products, this is indeed the year to actually implement the 'tiny' 0201s— be prepared... Another real progress is the keen interest in the alloy selection, technology and applications of lead-free systems as vividly demonstrated across the industry. Actual operation of lead-free assembly production finally extends to the U.S. from the foreign market. A slow yet steady progress in this area is expected… There were many other examples on the show floor that are evidence of the continued technology advancement. At APEX my time ran out unnoticeably and I wish I could have spent more time on the floor…" It's been 20 years since that column, and the "tiny" passive components such as 0201 and 01005 have been implemented successful- ly and continue the path on miniaturization, integration and embedded system. Lead- free alloys, having gone through converging to SAC alloy and then diverging to applica- tion-specific alloys, continue to advance and evolve. is year, without reservation, I expect a va- riety of new products and frontier technologies to be exhibited; and I look forward to an exu- berant, invigorating and enriching experience at IPC APEX EXPO and CES. (Note: is col- umn was written just before CES, scheduled for Jan. 11–14.)

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