Zhong, W.H., Chan, Y.C., Wu, B.Y. et al. J Mater Sci (2007) 42: 5239. doi:10.1007/s10853-006-1234-x
This paper evaluates the shearing behavior of ball grid array (BGA) solder joints on Au/Ni/Cu pads of FR4 substrates after multiple reflow soldering. A new Pb-free solder, Sn–3Ag–0.5Cu–8In (SACI), has been compared with Sn–3Ag–0.5Cu (SAC) and Sn–37Pb (SP) solders, in terms of fracture surfaces, shearing forces and microstructures. Three failure modes, ball cut, a combination of solder shear and solder/pad bond separation, and pad lift, are assessed for the different solders and reflow cycles. It is found that the shearing forces of the SP and SAC solder joints tend to increase slightly with an increase in the number of reflow cycles due to diffusion-induced solid solution strengthening of the bulk solder and augmentation of the shearing area. However, the shearing forces of the SACI solder joints decrease slightly after four cycles of reflow, which is ascribed to the thermal degradation of both the solder/intermetallic compound (IMC) and IMC/Ni interfaces. The SACI solder joints yield the highest strengths, whereas the SP solder joints give the smallest values, irrespective of the number of reflow cycles. Thickening of the interfacial IMC layer and coarsening of the dispersing IMC particles within the bulk solders were also observed. Nevertheless, the variation of shearing forces and IMC thickness with different numbers of reflow cycles was not so significant since the Ni under layer acted as an effective diffusion barrier. In addition, the initially-formed IMC layer retarded the further extensive dissolution of the pad material and its interaction with the solder.