What is Tin Bismuth?

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The tin bismuth that you’ve probably seen in those pink gloopy solutions used to settle an upset stomach is actually an important industrial ingredient. It’s what allows the low melt alloys that are so useful in electronics (think desoldering) to work. It lowers the melting point of tin and tin alloys, like solder, so it can have more time to free leads from pads and make short work of those stubborn QFP chips.

It also adds strength and stability to the molten alloy, which is why it’s found in tin-lead and other low melt alloys. These alloys are vital for things like making electrical contact, but the industry comes up with their own mixtures and ratios to suit their specific needs, often keeping them a secret.

In order to improve their performance, these alloys can be made using various tin and bismuth additions. For example, tin-bismuth-indium is sometimes used in a type of metal known as Field’s metal, which is a eutectic alloy that contains only bismuth, indium and tin. This type of alloy is less expensive than pure tin, but it doesn’t contain any toxic elements, making it ideal for use in electronic production.

The electrodeposition of tin and bismuth, and tin-bismuth alloys, from tetrabutylammonium chlorometalate salts in the choline chloride/ethylene glycol (1:2 molar ratio) deep eutectic solvent was studied on glassy carbon and gold with cyclic voltammetry, rotating disc voltammetry and chronoamperometry. The redox peaks of the SnII-containing electrolyte showed one redox process that was attributed to [SnCl3]-, while the redox peak for the BiIII-containing electrolyte was a mixture of hexachlorobismuthate(III) and metal, with the latter being detected by Raman spectroscopy.

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