Microelectronic solder joints are typically exposed to aggressive thermo-mechanical cycling (TMC) conditions, resulting in significant strain-enhanced microstructural coarsening during service. This microstructural evolution produces continuously evolving mechanical properties during extended use. Since solder joint life is dictated largely by the creep strain range, it is necessary to develop microstructurally adaptive creep models for solders to enable accurate prediction of joint life. In this paper, we present (1) a new closed-form creep model incorporating microstructural coarsening in lead-free solders, which can be easily incorporated into life-prediction models; and (2) a methodology for impression creep testing of Sn-3.5Ag solders which can potentially enable creep testing of individual flip chip or BGA balls in a package. The proposed creep model incorporates the effects of both static and strain-enhanced coarsening of second phase intermetallic particles which are present in lead-free solders, and shows that as a joint undergoes TMC, the creep rate increases continuously, adversely impacting life. This inference is supported by the impression creep experiments, which are shown to capture the essential features of creep in Sn-Ag alloys, in accordance with the available literature. It is also shown that the creep resistance of a given alloy composition is strongly dependent on the microstructure, making it important that creep data used for joint life prediction be based on testing of actual joints or very tightly controlled microstructures.

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