Hydrogen Embrittlement of a Copper Lead in a Diode
Diode leads that were to be made from OFHC copper were instead made from copper with high oxygen content. The leads had a nickel underplating, a gold final plating, and were brazed to the diode package in a hydrogen atmosphere. After brazing, the leads became embrittled. SEM examination of the fractured leads revealed voids and some oxidized areas surrounded by ductile fracture areas. High pressure steam pockets observed as voids in the microstructure caused hydrogen embrittlement of the leads. The obvious corrective action was to ensure that the lead material was OFHC copper.