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Tin Whiskers

“Whiskers”, first identified in electroplated cadmium components during the late 1940’s, appear to essentially be an extrusion, or hairlike growth emanating from the surface of the tin plate. They can sometimes grow long enough to cause a short circuit between leads, or may break off and cause damage elsewhere in the device. It is generally agreed that pure tin finishes (and other high-tin content lead-free alloy finishes) present a risk of tin-whisker failures in electronics, particularly those demanding high reliability.
Source: Silicon Cert Laboratories website.