In Situ Measurement of Stress and Whisker/Hillock Density During Thermal Cycling of Sn Layers
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Compressive stress is believed to be the primary driving force that makes Sn whiskers/hillocks grow, but the mechanisms that create the stress (e.g., intermetallic compound growth) are difficult to control. As an alternative, the thermal expansion mismatch between the Sn layer and the substrate can be used to induce stress in a controlled way via heating and cooling. In this work, we describe real-time experiments which quantify the whiskering behavior and stress evolution during cyclic heating. The density of whiskers/hillocks is measured with an optical microscope, while the stress is measured simultaneously with a wafer-curvature-based multi-beam optical stress sensor. Results from three thermal cycles are described in which the samples are heated from room temperature to 65 °C at rates of 10, 30, and 240 °C/h. In each case, we find that the whisker/hillock formation is the primary source of stress relaxation. At fast heating rates, the relaxation is proportional to the number of hillocks, indicating that the stress is relaxed by the nucleation of many small surface features. At slower heating rates, the whisker/hillock density is lower, and continual growth of the features is suggested after nucleation. Long whiskers are found to be more likely to form in the slow heating cycle.
KeywordsPb-free manufacturing tin whiskers thermal cycling reliability
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