During service, micro-cracks form inside solder joints, making a microelectronic package prone to failure particularly during a drop. Hence, the understanding of the fracture behavior of solder joints under drop conditions, synonymously at high strain rates and in mixed mode, is critically important. This study reports: (i) the effects of processing conditions (reflow parameters and aging) on the microstructure and fracture behavior of Sn-3.8%Ag-0.7%Cu (SAC387) solder joints attached to Cu substrates, and (ii) the effects of the loading conditions (strain rate and loading angle) on the fracture toughness of these joints, especially at high strain rates. A methodology for calculating critical energy release rate, GC, was employed to quantify the fracture toughness of the joints. Two parameters, (i) effective thickness of the interfacial intermetallic compounds (IMC) layer, which is proportional to the product of the thickness and the roughness of the IMC layer, and (ii) yield strength of the solder, which depends on the solder microstructure and the loading rate, were identified as the dominant quantities affecting the fracture behavior of the solder joints. The fracture toughness of the solder joint decreased with an increase in the effective thickness of the IMC layer and the yield strength of the solder. A 2-dimensional fracture mechanism map with the effective thickness of the IMC layer and the yield strength of the solder as two axes and the fracture toughness as well as the fraction of different fracture paths as contour-lines was prepared. Trends in the fracture toughness of the solder joints and their correlation with the fracture modes are explained using the fracture mechanism map.

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