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Preventing Void Growth Between Ni3Sn4 and Solder


An increasing number of applications of microelectronics products involve multiple reflows and/or extended operation at temperatures high enough that intermetallic growth in the solder joints becomes a concern even on Ni surfaces. Recent work has shown the evolution of large voids between the Ni3Sn4 intermetallic compound and the solder. It was also suggested that the buildup of stresses due to the Kirkendall effect makes this void formation “inevitable” once the Ni3Sn4 thickness has grown to more to more than 5 µm. In a systematic study we find that no voids of any kind are observed in solder joints on high-purity Ni pads, while voiding of different levels of severity is seen upon soldering on electroplated Ni depending on specific processing conditions. We show that while the void growth may result in Ni stress relaxation, the void nucleation is associated with gasification of impurities and/or hydrogen in the Ni during reflow. This is evidenced by the fact that all voiding could be prevented by annealing of electroplated Ni pads to 450°C for 24 h prior to soldering. We argue that, upon nucleation, voids do indeed grow further by coalescence of Kirkendall vacancies created by the disparity of Ni and Sn diffusion fluxes in aging, but the nucleation mechanism renders the voiding propensity controllable and eventually preventable. We discuss the minimization of voiding by control of Ni electroplating and reflow process parameters.

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This research was supported by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and Binghamton University through the Center for Heterogeneous Integration Research on Packaging (CHIRP,, Task 2878.005. M.N. and N.D. also acknowledge the support of IEEC Binghamton as well as the partial support of Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and Binghamton University through the Center for Heterogeneous Integration Research on Packaging (CHIRP,, Task 2878.011.

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Njuki, M., Thekkut, S., Das, R. et al. Preventing Void Growth Between Ni3Sn4 and Solder. J. Electron. Mater. (2022).

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  • Kirkendall voids
  • sporadic voiding
  • electronic packaging
  • reliability
  • Ni–Sn solder joints
  • impurity incorporation