Soldering has become an indispensable joining process in the electronic packaging industry. The industry is aiming for the use of environment friendly lead-free solders. All the lead-free solders are high tin-containing alloys. During the soldering process, an intense interaction of metallization on PCB and tin from the solder occurs at the metallization/solder interface. Intermetallic compound (IMC) is formed at the interface and subsequently PCB bond-metal (substrate) is dissolved into the molten solder. In the present study the terms bond-metal and substrate will be used interchangeably and the term 'substrate' refers to the top layer of the PCB which comes in contact with the molten solder during soldering reaction. Thickness of the intermetallic phase formed at the joint interface and amount of substrate lost is critical in achieving reliable solder joints. During the wet phase of soldering process, the IMC does not grow as layered structure; rather it takes the shape of scallops. The growth of scalloped IMC during the solder/substrate interaction entails complicated physics. Understanding of the actual kinetics involved in the formation of IMC phase is important in controlling the process to achieve desired results. This paper presents theoretical analysis of the kinetics involved in the formation of the scalloped intermetallic phase. The intermetallic phase growth is experimentally investigated to support the underlying kinetics of the process. Numerical model has been suggested to translate the physics of the process. The model is based on the basic mass diffusion equations and can predict the substrate dissolution and IMC thickness as a function of soldering time.

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