Home > Services > DC > Zinc Whiskers

Zinc Whiskers

by John Herbert | Director

If your data centre, computer room, server farm or test cell is suffering unexplained failures, whiskers could be the root cause of your problem.

zinc whiskers (by NASA)

What are Zinc Whiskers?

First discovered by NASA (USA) zinc whiskers are extruded metal filaments, almost invisible to the naked eye. Under the right conditions these ultra fine threads of metal can fracture and break away, being incredibly light any stream of air can distribute them over your entire facility.

Once inside your hardware they can cause short circuits and equipment failures.

Whilst the formation process is not entirely understood, it is believed that stress in the material causes these fine extrusions (refer to imagine above provided courtesy of NASA Research Laboratory).

These zinc whisker threads are of such a size and weight that they are easily carried on a modest air current, settling out causing damage to printed circuit board in computer hardware and the UPS infrastructure.

it's not rocket science, it's more important than that
- John Herbert

Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) returned to the manufacturer for fault finding provide little help, these whiskers are of such a size that any short circuit current typically vaporizes it leaving little no evidence of the root cause.


This is a common datacenter difficultly, as the hardware was upgraded, the power required and hence the heat energy discharged climbed ever upwards. The increased density is a local airflow/cooling problem, the real problem is why these managed facilities suffer business critical issues.

unexplained failures check for your zinc whiskers

If your datacenter E&M infrastructure is incapable of accommodating more sophisticated hardware hot zones, or hot spots develop signaling problems ahead.

data centre planning and design

About Kelcroft

Kelcroft exists to assist business providing expert experienced datacenter infrastructure design, planning, migration and certification keeping your facility operational 24/7.


NASA Research Materials


Further Information

For further information regarding datacenter services, including design, auditing, and planning the migration of your Mission Critical facilities contact the experts, call Mr. John Herbert at our Hong Kong office or email us today.

Keywords: Zinc whiskers, data center centre COMPUTER ROOMS, infrastructure, Hong Kong, Asia