This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Characterization of Lead-free Solders for Electronic Packaging




Ma, Hongtao

Type of Degree



Electrical and Computer Engineering


The characterization of lead-free solders, especially after isothermal aging, is very important in order to accurately predict the reliability of solder joints. However, due to lack of experimental testing standards and the high homologous temperature of solder alloys (Th > 0.5Tm even at room temperature), there are very large discrepancies in both the tensile and creep properties provided in current databases for both lead-free and Sn-Pb solder alloys. In this research, mechanical measurements of isothermal aging effects and the resulting changes in the materials behavior of lead-free solders were performed. A novel specimen preparation procedure was developed where the solder uniaxial test specimens are formed in high precision rectangular cross-section glass tubes using a vacuum suction process. Using specimens fabricated with the developed procedure, isothermal aging effects and viscoplastic material behavior evolution have been characterized for 95.5Sn-4.0Ag-0.5Cu (SAC405) and 96.5Sn-3.0Ag-0.5Cu (SAC305) lead-free solders, which are commonly used as the solder ball alloy in lead-free BGAs and other components. Analogous tests were performed with 63Sn-37Pb eutectic solder samples for comparison purposes. Up to 40% reduction in tensile strength was observed for water quenched specimens after two months of aging at room temperature. Creep deformation also increased dramatically with increasing aging durations. Microstructural changes during room temperature aging were also observed and recorded for the solder alloys and correlated with the observed mechanical behavior changes. Aging effects at elevated temperatures for up to 6 months were also investigated. Thermal aging caused significant tensile strength loss and deterioration of creep deformation. The thermal aging results also showed that after an initial tensile strength drop, the Sn-Pb eutectic solder reached a relatively stable stage after 200 hours of aging. However, for SAC alloy, both the tensile and creep properties continuously changed with increasing aging time. The creep resistance of SAC alloy was lower than that of Sn-Pb at longer aging durations at elevated temperature. Solder alloys are extremely sensitive to changes in both temperature and strain rate. A linear relationship was found between the temperature and the tensile properties, while a power law relationship was found between strain rate and tensile properties. Constitutive models have also been developed with multiple variables of strain rate and temperature. Creep testing was conducted at different stress levels and temperatures to explore the constitutive modeling. SAC alloy was found to have higher creep resistance and activation energy than the Sn-Pb solder without thermal aging.