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Strain Rate Sensitivity of Mixed SAC-BiSn Solder Joints
Keywords: Low-Melt , Pb-free, Strain Rate
As the electronics industry continues to evolve in complexity, demands, and the materials utilized, a concerted effort has developed to implement lower melting point solders. The ability to minimize the thermal exposure that an assembly is subjected to affords significant benefits with respect to both the reliability and the materials that can be used. One of the most popular low melt solder alloys currently being investigated by the industry is the Bi-Sn eutectic system, which has a melting point of 139C. The BiSn system itself is not particularly novel as it was posited as a SAC alternative during the initial shift from Pb based solders. Nevertheless, BiSn has risen to prominence with the recent growth of interest in lower melting point solders. While a body of knowledge currently exists regarding this system, and the near eutectic variant BiSnAg, there are still concerns regarding its ductility, especially as a function of thermal exposure and strain rate. Bismuth is widely acknowledged as a brittle element and its presence in such quantities raises concerns of not just Cu6Sn5 embrittlement but also solder fragility in high strain rate types of environments. Researchers have already shown that pure BiSn interconnects demonstrate significantly worse performance in most types of high impact types of scenarios as compared to SAC 305. An additional complication is that to realistically implement BiSn solder alloys in the short term, it will be necessary to use components already balled with SAC 305 solder. This means that the resulting solder interconnect, reflowed below conventional SAC reflow temperatures, will form a type of mixed hybrid microstructure. This non- equilibrium microstructure will be composed of two regions, one Bi-rich region which is well past saturation and a second region which is Bi- deficient. It is of specific industrial interest then to not just investigate the BiSn solder system but also within the context of a realistic mixed interconnect. Recent work by several researchers has shown that this hybrid microstructure is unstable and quite active with respect to the movement and localized concentration of the Bismuth. The degree of mixing of these two regions has been shown to be highly dependent upon reflow temperature and the paste to ball volume ratio. Mixed SAC-BiSn solder joints were formed by placing SAC 305 spheres on BiSn paste deposits for a paste to ball volume ratio of .18. These samples were then reflowed at either 175C or 200C. SAC 305 control samples were also made using a conventional Pb-free reflow profile with a peak temperature of 247C. A 22 mil Cu-OSP pad on a 1.0 mm thick FR4 substrate was used for all samples. A selection of the solder joints were then isothermally aged at 90C for 200 hours. Using a joint level micromechanical tester, ball shear tests were conducted at a range of strain rates for samples in the as- reflowed and aged state. Using this information, the strain rate sensitivity of the interconnects was mapped and correlated with the observed failure modes. Investigations into the fracture mechanisms were conducted by examining the shear fracture surface with optical and scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, the evolution of the microstructure was characterized. Results showed a clear transition from ductile solder failure to a brittle separation failure at the higher strain rates. Moreover, a clear impact of the isothermal exposure was observed.
Luke Wentlent,
Universal Instruments Corp.
Conklin, NY
United States


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