How to Identify Zinc Whiskers in your Data Centre

There are a number of things you can do to diagnose zinc whiskers:

  • Shine a very bright light on the suspected surface. If zinc whiskers are present, and if they are long enough, you will probably see them glint in the light. Blow softly over the surface to see if the whiskers wave in the breeze.
  • Note the type of plating. A mottled finish is almost certainly not capable of growing whiskers because the fine layer of zinc is not continuous. If the finish is shiny and flawless, it could be either electroplated or hot-dipped, so it is more difficult to tell.  It may or may not be able to grow whiskers.

How We Can Help

  • Send us a photo of the suspected surface. We’ll be able to tell you if the type of plating could support whiskers. We won’t be able to tell you if whiskers are present though. (Cost: Free)
  • Contact us and we will sent you some microscope stubs and instructions on how to take samples. Send the loaded stubs back to us and we will examine them under an optical microscope and let you know about the density and length of any whiskers on the stubs. If necessary we can confirm using an electron microscope, the length and elemental content of the sample.
  • Complete a zinc whiskers survey of a specified area. Our expert visits your site, inspects all plated surfaces, components, inside racks and takes samples where appropriate. While on site we can also evaluate air flow, position of zinc whisker patches and the overall risk to vulnerable equipment. You’ll receive a report identifying the the location and length of any zinc whiskers, their potential to cause damage, and recommendations.
  • We can remove the zinc whiskers. This can be done in conjunction with a zinc whisker survey - a type of “seek and clean” method. If you are fairly certain you want any zinc whiskers removed, this can be a cheaper option than having a separate zinc whiskers survey.  

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