Electronic packages are frequently exposed to thermal cycling during their service life between low to high temperature extreme. Similar phenomena can be observed in solder joints during the characterization of thermal-mechanical fatigue behavior. This variation in temperature causes the evolution of mechanical and microstructural behavior of solder joints. Also, dwelling at high temperature extreme causes the mechanical properties reduction of solder joints due to thermal aging phenomena which eventually leads to the change in microstructure. In literature, the effect of thermal aging on the mechanical behavior evolution has been reported by several research groups, but the evolution of mechanical and microstructural properties under different thermal cycling exposure is limited. In our prior study, reduction of mechanical properties of SAC305 lead-free solder material under different thermal cycling exposures have been reported for up to 5 days of thermal cycling. It was found that thermal cycling with long ramp period and dwell time has severe effect on mechanical properties reduction. In our present study, previous study has been extended up to 100 days along with the mechanical behavior evolution of solder joints under stress free condition at different thermal cyclic loading. Particularly, the evolutions of mechanical behavior in both bulk SAC305 miniature solder bar samples and small SAC305 solder balls under stress free condition have been investigated for several thermal cycling profiles, and then the results were compared.

Reflow solidification technique with a controlled temperature profile has been used to prepare bulk solder specimens for uniaxial tensile testing. Optical microscopy has been used to figure out the single grain BGA solder balls after grounding and polishing to avoid grain orientation effect during nanoindentation technique. Then, both bulk solder bars and solder balls were thermally cycled between −40 C to +125 °C under a stress-free condition (no load) in a thermal chamber. Several thermal loading were adopted such as (1) 150 minutes cycles with 45 minutes ramps and 30 minutes dwells, (2) air-to-air thermal shock exposures with 30 minutes dwells and near instantaneous ramps, (3) 90 minute cycles with 45 minutes ramps and 0 minutes dwells (thermal ramp only), and (4) Isothermal aging at high temperature extreme (no cycle). After each thermal cycling exposure, mechanical properties evolution of both solder bars and solder balls were recorded in terms of effective elastic modulus (E), hardness (H), yield strength (YS), and ultimate tensile strength (UTS). For the BGA solder balls, the evolution of mechanical properties was measured using nanoindentation. Moreover, mechanical properties evolution of both specimens was compared in terms of normalized properties with respect to elapsed time under different thermal cycling exposures. Finally, the microstructural evolution of bulk solder bars was observed under slow thermal cycling exposures with elapsed time.

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