This paper aims to gain an insight into the correlation between the microstructure and surface composition of electroless Ni-P and its behaviour during soldering with Pb free alloys including Sn-3.8Ag-0.7Cu, Sn-3.5Ag and Sn-0.7Cu. Ni-P coatings with different P contents were produced through an industrial process on copper metal substrates. The surface morphology of these coatings was observed by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and the bulk composition was analyzed by means of Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX). The mechanical properties of the coatings were evaluated by nano-indentation testing under different maximum loads. However, to understand the behaviour of P in Ni-P coatings and deterioration of the coating surfaces during exposure to air, the surfaces of the coatings were also characterised by X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) for storage at different temperatures. The dependence of the solderability of Ni-P coatings on the storage time and temperature was investigated by wetting balance testing, using an inactive or active flux with or without an inert N2 atmosphere. Finally, the solderability of Ni-P coatings to Pb free solders is correlated with their composition and microstructure (e.g. surface characteristics).

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