Electrochemical migration

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Electrochemical migration (ECM) is the dissolution and movement of metal ions in presence of electric potential, which results in the growth of dendritic structures between anode and cathode. The process is most commonly observed in printed circuit boards where it may significantly decrease the insulation between conductors.

The main factor facilitating the ECM is humidity. In the presence of water, ECM can go very quickly. Usually the process involves several stages: water adsorption, anode metal dissolution, ion accumulation, ion migration to cathode, and dendritic growth. The growth of the dendrite takes fraction of a second, during which time the resistance between anode and cathode drops almost to zero.[1]

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