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Do electronic components have an expiration date?

How long does it take to components to go bad if we store them at room (normal) temperature and humidity?

What components go bad sooner? (resistor, capacitor, transistor, ...)

What are the best conditions for components storage?

Conditions of maintenance maybe are written in the datasheet, but is expiration date coming from the datasheet too?

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Semiconductor parts I buy from Future sometimes come in hermetically-sealed antistatic bags, with silica gel inside.

Each come with a warning about humidity. (I will try to find one.) I believe the warning is parts should be used within six months once the package is opened.

I believe the issue is not about the silicon deteriorating. It is about moisture being absorbed by the package which may cause failure during the surface mount soldering process.

I have no reason to believe it is unique to the parts I buy from Future, and may apply to other parts with similar package properties.

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As well as the well discuss by others moisture ingress issues there can be solderability considerations.

Oxidation of the "pins" occurs over time - the rate depends on the finish used and base conductor material. Old components can become almost impossible to solder reliably with standard methods and may need special fluxes and different temperature profiles or even mechanical cleaning if value of the component and desperation levels are suitably high. The same applies to PCBs.

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I think about the only component that I've had a problem expiring are electrolytic capacitors. The dielectric compound dries out so this changes or even kills the capacitance. Some times the expiration condition isn't a date. Flash memory often advertises a 100,000 write cycle as expiration. As far as a date? I don't think I've ever seen one, not to say there isn't one. My guess is that its far enough in the future the device will be obsolete. That being said I still have an ICOM radio from the 80's another from the 90's and use them regularly too. Today's electronics might not last as long though. I know that a lot of people were bummed when they took lead out of solder, but there is always a trade off; Right? I mean longevity Vs environment....

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There ARE expiration dates, but they're seldom printed on the devices. Occasionally you'll find a manufacture date on solid-state components.

The old standard in field engineering manuals used to be an expected service life of no more than ten years from original component manufacture until failure. Lots of exceptions, but this is EXPECTED service life.

Today's components generally have a shorter expected service life, because they're more heavily integrated.

The problem is that silicon in general (and the silicon compounds in specific that we use for solid-state electronics) is not a true crystalline substance - it's a PLASTIC substance. It flows or slumps, very slowly, over time. This can be witnessed easily by visiting any building with very old window glass - the glass is always thicker at the bottom than it is at the top.

In solid-state devices, the silicon can't slump very far before the component's ratings are compromised and the device fails. Much more so with greater integration, up to today's practical limits (which approach molecular transistor sizes). It takes VERY little slump in a five-micron transistor before the transistor fails under normal operating conditions.

And... it doesn't matter whether the device is under power or not - "slump never sleeps". Unpowered equipment lying on a shelf is just as likely to experience silicon-slump failure as well-designed equipment always powered up... which is why a "new old stock" replacement for an automotive computer is as likely to experience failure as the computer it's bought to replace.

ALL devices have SOME finite life, no question of that... especially if installed in poorly designed equipment and operated under conditions hostile to electronic devices. Passive devices (resistors, capacitors, inductors, etc), provided they're in well-designed equipment and operated well within their limitations, tend to last longer than active (silicon-based solid-state) devices, though, and gallium-based active devices tend to last better than silicon-based devices.

We'll all see some anecdotal responses here: "But I have a stereo that's thirty years old" and the like. Sure, there ARE exceptions. Sometimes we get lucky. How many of us are using computers older than about three years? Not many. How many 1990s vehicles do we see on the roads? We see them often in the junkyards, mechanically sound and sheet metal in good condition, but electronically not worth repairing. How old is your television? Your microwave oven? Your watch? Your camera? It all goes away, and every year the new equipment will go away earlier.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Glass in old buildings is tapered because they didn't have float glass when it was constructed. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 15 '14 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and I have several computers older than 3 years and a car from the 90s. runs \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 15 '14 at 21:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Two bits of that anecdotal evidence. 8) If the tapering is because of the lack of float glass, why is the thickest always at the BOTTOM instead of random places? \$\endgroup\$ – TDHofstetter Aug 15 '14 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because the thicker part holds the rest up better than the thinner part. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 15 '14 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a weak argument - the glazier SURELY didn't intentionally cut that precious glass specifically for that reason and carefully measure it so it'd be installed "right side up". \$\endgroup\$ – TDHofstetter Aug 15 '14 at 22:06

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