Sandia Computer Modeling Aids Solder Reliability in Nuclear Weapons

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March 26, 2018 | Originally published by Date Line: March 26 on

Solder isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as essential to a nuclear weapon. But since weapons contain hundreds of thousands of solder joints, each potentially a point of failure, Sandia National Laboratories has developed and refined computer models to predict their performance and reliability.

“Computational modeling of solder joint fatigue has become critical to Sandia and its role in the current nuclear weapons life extension programs, even before production assembly at the Kansas City National Security Campus,” said materials scientist Paul Vianco, who works with material modeler Mike Neilsen. “Sandia uses the computational model to solve manufacturing issues as well as assess the impact of design changes on solder joint reliability.

“This is critical as we finalize designs and head into production,” he said.