Solder joint reliability is a chief concern in electronic assemblies. Electronic packages consist of various materials, each having their own Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE). When assembled packages experience high temperature gradients and thermal cycles, a mismatch in the CTE values brings about cyclic shear strains in the solder joints, which can ultimately lead to failure. Thus, it is important to understand the effects of shear cycling on the damage accumulated in solder joints.
Previous studies conducted on the effect of mechanical cycling on the material behavior of lead free solders have been performed on bulk samples subjected to tension and compression. Our goal in this study was to determine the evolution of the mechanical properties of doped lead free solder joints when subjected to mechanical shear cycling. Experiments conducted on actual solder joints would help us gain a better understanding on the real life effects of shear cycling. The test specimens consisted of a 3 × 3 array of nine solder joints of approximately 0.75 mm diameter. With the aid of specially designed test fixtures, the specimens were gripped and then subjected to mechanical cycling in the shear using an Instron Micromechanical tester. Testing was performed on both SAC305 and SACX (SAC+Bi) solder joints. The joints were cycled for certain durations, and a nanoindentation system was used to measure the evolution of the mechanical properties (elastic modulus, hardness, creep rate) as a function of the number of shear cycles.