The microstructure, mechanical response, and failure behavior of lead free solder joints in electronic assemblies are constantly evolving when exposed to isothermal aging and/or thermal cycling environments. Traditional finite element based predictions for solder joint reliability during thermal cycling accelerated life testing are based on solder constitutive equations (e.g. Anand viscoplastic model) and failure models (e.g. energy dissipation per cycle model) that do not evolve with material aging. Thus, there will be significant errors in the calculations with lead free SAC alloys that illustrate dramatic aging phenomena. In this research, we have developed a new reliability prediction procedure that utilizes constitutive relations and failure criteria that incorporate aging effects, and then validated the new approach through correlation with thermal cycling accelerated life testing experimental data.

As a part of this work, a revised set off Anand viscoplastic stress-strain relations for solder have been developed that included material parameters that evolve with the thermal history of the solder material. The effects of aging on the nine Anand model parameters have been determined as a function of aging temperature and aging time, and the revised Anand constitutive equations with evolving material parameters have been implemented in commercial finite element codes. In addition, new aging aware failure criteria have been developed based on fatigue data for lead free solder uniaxial specimens that were aged at elevated temperature for various durations prior to mechanical cycling. Using the measured fatigue data, mathematical expressions have been developed for the evolution of the solder fatigue failure criterion constants with aging, both for Coffin-Manson (strain-based) and Morrow-Darveaux (dissipated energy based) type fatigue criteria. Similar to the findings for mechanical/constitutive behavior, our results show that the failure data and associated fatigue models for solder joints are affected significantly by isothermal aging prior to cycling.

After development of the tools needed to include aging effects in solder joint reliability models, we have then applied these approaches to predict reliability of PBGA components attached to FR-4 printed circuit boards that were subjected to thermal cycling. Finite element modeling was performed to predict the stress-strain histories during thermal cycling of both non-aged and aged PBGA assemblies, where the aging at constant temperature occurred before the assemblies were subjected to thermal cycling. The results from the finite element calculations were then combined with the aging aware fatigue models to estimate the reliability (cycles to failure) for the aged and non-aged assemblies. As expected, the predictions show significant degradations in the solder joint life for assemblies that had been pre-aged before thermal cycling.

To validate our new reliability models, an extensive test matrix of thermal cycling reliability testing has been performed using a test vehicle incorporating several sizes of fine pitch PBGA daisy chain components. Before thermal cycling began, the assembled test boards were divided up into test groups that were subjected to several sets of aging conditions (preconditioning) including different aging temperatures (T = 25, 55, 85 and 125 C) and different aging times (no aging, and 6 and 12 months). After aging, the assemblies were subjected to thermal cycling (−40 to +125 C) until failure occurred. As with the finite element predictions, the Weibull data failure plots have demonstrated that the thermal cycling reliabilities of pre-aged assemblies were significantly less than those of non-aged assemblies. Good correlation was obtained between our new reliability modeling procedure that includes aging and the measured solder joint reliability data.

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