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. In our prior work on aging effects, we have demonstrated that large degradations occur in the material properties (stiffness and strength) and creep behavior of Sn-Ag-Cu (SAC) lead free solders during aging. These effects are universally detrimental to reliability and are exacerbated as the aging temperature and aging time increases. Conversely, changes due to aging are relatively small in conventional Sn-Pb solders.

In our current work, we are exploring several doped SAC+X alloys in an attempt to reduce the aging induced degradation of the material behavior of SAC solders. The doped materials are lead free SAC solders that have been modified by the addition of small percentages of one or more additional elements (X). Using dopants (e.g. Bi, In, Ni, La, Mg, Mn, Ce, Co, Ti, Zn, etc.) has become widespread to enhance shock/drop reliability, wetting, and other properties; and we have extended this approach to examine the ability of dopants to reduce the effects of aging and extend thermal cycling reliability. In this paper, we concentrate on presenting the results for SAC+X (X = Zn, Co, Ni). The enhancement of aging resistance for the doped lead free solders was explored. Comparisons were made to the responses of non-doped SAC lead free solder alloys.

The effects of aging on mechanical behavior have been examined by performing stress-strain and creep tests on solder samples that were aged for various durations (0–6 months) at elevated temperature (100 °C). Variations of the mechanical and creep properties (elastic modulus, yield stress, ultimate strength, creep compliance, etc.) were observed and modeled as a function of aging time and aging temperature. Our findings show that the doped SAC+X alloys illustrate reduced degradations with aging for all of the aging temperatures considered. Also, the stress-strain and creep mechanical properties of doped solders are better than those of reference solders after short durations of aging. After long term aging, doped solder alloys were found to have more stable behaviors than those of the standard SAC alloys. A parallel microstructure study has shown that less degradation and coarsening of the phases occurs in doped solder materials relative to non-doped solders after severe aging.

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