Zinc Whisker Detection

You have a data centre, and are concerned about the component failure rate that you suffer. You are worried that it may be due to Zinc Whiskers. Here are some Zinc Whisker Detection methods that may assist you to determine whether you may have a zinc whisker problem.

Zinc whisker Detection Methods

  • If failures occur following routine maintenance, this is an indicator that vibration has dislodged whiskers into the airflow. This typically happens when moving floor tiles or cables on cable trays. The areas that have been disturbed should be investigated first
  • Sampling for the presence of Zinc whiskers can be performed in a variety of ways:
    • Run your finger over your zinc surfaces (Not HSE approved this one!)
    • Visual inspection. In a dark environment, whilst viewing along a zinc surface shine a bright light across the surface perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to your line of sight. The illumination should also be along the zinc surface. Sparkling filaments are probably zinc whiskers. The zinc whiskers are marginal to see and individual whiskers will appear from some angles, and disappear when viewed from others
    • Use Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) stubs on zinc areas and get the stubs analysed in a lab. This method is routinely performed by many cleaning companies whilst managing data centres
    • Perform airflow sampling with a 10 micron or less filter, get the filter analysed
    • Use sticky tape (electrical insulation tape or similar) to sample areas of the zinc, get the tape samples analysed by an assay lab


Our partners will be able to perform one or more of the sampling methods to confirm whether you have zinc whiskers in your data centre. Furthermore they will be able to apply Dataguardian™ to eradicate the problem of zinc whiskers if you are affected.

If your existing cleaning company is not currently a partner of ours, and you wish to use them to apply Dataguardian™ after detecting zinc whiskers in your data centre, please do ask them to contact us to become a partner.