Exposure of lead free solder joints to high temperature isothermal aging conditions leads to microstructure evolution, which mainly includes coarsening of the intermetallic (IMC) phases. In our previous work, it was found that the coarsening of IMCs led to degradation of the overall mechanical properties of the SAC solder composite consisting of β-Sn matrix and IMC particles. However, it is not known whether the isothermal aging changes properties of the individual β-Sn and IMC phases, which could also be affecting to the overall degradation of properties.

In this study, the aging induced variations of the mechanical properties of the β-Sn phase, and of Sn-Cu IMC particles in SAC solder joints have been explored using nanoindentation. SAC solder joints extracted from SuperBGA (SBGA) packages were aged for different time intervals (0, 1, 5, 10 days) at T = 125 °C. Nanoindentation test samples were prepared by cross sectioning the solder joints, and then molding them in epoxy and polishing them to prepare the joint surfaces for nanoindentation. Multiple β-Sn grains were identified in joints using optical polarized microscopy and IMCs were also observed. Individual β-Sn grains and IMC particles were then indented at room temperature to measure their mechanical properties (elastic modulus and hardness) and time dependent creep deformations. Properties measured at different aging time were then compared to explore aging induced degradations of the individual phases. The properties of the individual phases did not show significant degradation. Thus, IMC coarsening is the primary reason for the degradation of bulk solder joint properties, and changes of the properties of the individual phases making up the lead free solder material are negligible.

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