As environmental issues are raising more interest and are becoming crucial factors in all parts of the world, more and more environmental-friendly electronics products are emerging. Usually this means the introduction of products with lead-free solders. However, the reliability of lead-free solders is still a serious concern despite the vast research done in this field. This paper will describe the interconnect reliability of three kinds of solder joints respectively prepared with lead-free solder paste and lead-free PBGA components, lead-free solder paste and tin-lead-silver PBGA components, and tin-lead solder paste and tin-lead-silver PBGA components. Lead-free and tin-lead solders were composed of eutectic tin-silver-copper and tin-lead, respectively. In addition, the study also presents the effect of multiple reflow times. The study focuses on the microstructures of different assemblies. The particular interest is on the assemblies soldered with lead-free solder paste and tin-lead-silver PBGA components, since the SnPbAg solder on the bumps of the PBGA components were exposed to the reflow profile meant for the lead-free SnAgCu solder. Thus, these SnPbAg solder bumps were in the molten state almost twice as long as the rest of the solders. This had a notable effect on the reliability of these solder joints as we will be showing later in this paper. The test boards were temperature-cycled for 2500 cycles between −40 and +125°C (a 30-minute cycle). PBGA solder joint failures were monitored with a real time monitoring system. Optical and scanning electron microscopy was used to inspect the broken solder joints and their microstructure. The results of tests indicate that the number of reflow times can significantly affect the lifetime of PBGA solder joints. The most notable changes can be seen in the solder joints made with tin-lead-silver PBGA components and tin-silver-copper solder paste soldered with a lead-free reflow profile. The general trend was that the reliability of the solder joints increased in proportion to the number of reflow times. Mainly two factors are believed to have the major effect on the reliability of PBGA solder joints, voids, and microstructural changes in solder.

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