In the current study, we have extended our previous work on nanoindentation of joints to examine a full test matrix of SAC solder alloys. The effects of silver content on SAC solder aging has been evaluated by testing joints from SACN05 (SAC105, SAC205, SAC305, and SAC405) test boards assembled with the same reflow profile. In all cases, the tested joints were extracted from 14 × 14 mm PBGA assemblies (0.8 mm ball pitch, 0.46 mm ball diameter) that are part of the iNEMI Characterization of Pb-Free Alloy Alternatives Project (16 different solder joint alloys available). After extraction, the joints were subjected to various aging conditions (0 to 12 months of aging at T = 125 C), and then tested via nanoindentation techniques to evaluate the stress-strain and creep behavior of the four aged SAC solder alloy materials at the joint scale.
The observed aging effects in the SACN05 solder joints have been quantified and correlated with the magnitudes observed in tensile testing of miniature bulk specimens performed in prior studies. The results show that the aging induced degradations of the mechanical properties (modulus, hardness) in the SAC joints were of similar order (30–40%) as those seen previously in the testing of larger “bulk” uniaxial solder specimens. The creep rates of the various tested SACN05 joints were found to increase by 8–50X due to aging. These degradations, while significant, were much less than those observed in larger bulk solder uniaxial tensile specimens with several hundred grains, where the increases ranged from 200X to 10000X for the various SACN05 alloys. Additional testing has been performed on very small tensile specimens with approximately 10 grains, and the aging-induced creep rate degradations found in these specimens were on the same order of magnitude as those observed in the single grain joints. Thus, the lack of the grain boundary sliding creep mechanism in the single grain joints is an important factor in avoiding the extremely large creep rate degradations (up to 10,000X) occurring in larger bulk SAC samples. All of the aging effects observed in the SACN05 joints were found to be exacerbated as the silver content in the alloy was reduced. In addition, the test results for all of the alloys show that the elastic, plastic, and creep properties of the solder joints and their sensitivities to aging are highly dependent on the crystal orientation.
Due to the variety of crystal orientations realized during solidification, it was important to identify the grain structure and crystal orientations in the tested joints. Cross-polarized light microscopy and Electron Back Scattered Diffraction (EBSD) techniques have been utilized for this purpose. The test results show that the elastic, plastic, and creep properties of the solder joints and their sensitivities to aging are highly dependent on the crystal orientation. In addition, an approach has been developed to predict tensile creep strain rates for low stress levels using nanoindentation creep data measured at very high compressive stress levels.