Fatigue failure of solder joints is one of the most common methods by which electronic packages fail. Electronic assemblies usually must cope with a temperature varying environment. Due to the mismatches in coefficients of thermal expansion (CTEs) of the various assembly materials, the solder joints are subjected to cyclic thermal-mechanical loading during temperature cycling. The main focus of this work is to investigate the changes in microstructure that occur in SAC305 and SAC+Bi lead free solders subjected to mechanical cycling. In this paper, we report on results for the SAC+Bi solder commonly known as SAC_Q or CYCLOMAX. Uniaxial solder specimens were prepared in glass tubes, and the outside surfaces were polished. A nanoindenter was then used to mark fixed regions on the samples for subsequent microscopy evaluation. The samples were subjected to mechanical cycling, and the microstructures of the selected fixed regions were recorded after various durations of cycling using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Using the recorded images, it was observed that the cycling induced damage consisted primarily of small intergranular cracks forming along the subgrain boundaries within dendrites. These cracks continued to grow as the cycling continued, resulting in a weakening of the dendrite structure, and eventually to the formation of large transgranular cracks. The distribution and size of the intermetallic particles in the inter-dendritic regions were observed to remain essentially unchanged.

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