This paper addresses cracking in solder thermal interface materials (STIMs) used in electronic packages under accelerated testing or service conditions. Finite-element models of various packages have been built to study the deformation in the STIM through a few cycles of accelerated testing. Two commonly observed failure modes — center/off-center brittle interfacial cracking, and cohesive corner cracking — were looked at. The success of the modeling approach was evaluated by comparison with thermal impedance data, as well as with CSAM images showing the extent of cracking in the STIM. It is shown that the models agree qualitatively with experimental data, both in terms of failure locations, as well as in terms of rank ordering different packages in terms of STIM degradation.

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