What is Gold Embrittlement?

What is gold embrittlement in printed circuit boards?

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Editorial Team - PCB Directory

Feb 16, 2022

In the electronics industry, gold is often deposited on other metals like copper pads on PCBs or connector pins of electronic components. The benefit of using gold plating is its high electrical conductivity, oxidation resistance (doesn’t oxidize easily), durability, and heat resistance. Gold plating provides a corrosion-resistant electrically conductive layer on copper, typically in electrical connectors and printed circuit boards (PCB). The gold plating protects connectors from corrosion, heat, wear and helps ensure a reliable electrical connection.

Gold embrittlement is a soldering defect that occurs when excess gold from a contact combines with tin or tin-lead solder. If the gold content exceeds 3% of the total weight of the solder, it can cause the solder joint to become weak during thermal cycling due to decreased ductility. A weak solder joint can lead to a failure and not provide a reliable connection in the PCB.

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