, Volume 67, Issue 10, pp 2383–2393 | Cite as

Nucleation and Growth of Tin in Pb-Free Solder Joints

  • C. M. GourlayEmail author
  • S. A. Belyakov
  • Z. L. Ma
  • J. W. Xian


The solidification of Pb-free solder joints is overviewed with a focus on the formation of the βSn grain structure and grain orientations. Three solders commonly used in electronics manufacturing, Sn-3Ag-0.5Cu, Sn-3.5Ag, and Sn-0.7Cu-0.05Ni, are used as case studies to demonstrate that (I) growth competition between primary dendrites and eutectic fronts during growth in undercooled melts is important in Pb-free solders and (II) a metastable eutectic containing NiSn4 forms in Sn-3.5Ag/Ni joints. Additionally, it is shown that the substrate (metallization) has a strong influence on the nucleation and growth of tin. We identify Co, Pd, and Pt substrates as having the potential to control solidification and microstructure formation. In the case of Pd and Pt substrates, βSn is shown to nucleate on the PtSn4 or PdSn4 intermetallic compound (IMC) reaction layer at relatively low undercooling of ~4 K, even for small solder ball diameters down to <200 μm.


Solder Joint Reaction Layer Intermetallic Layer Solder Ball Coincidence Site Lattice Boundary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Nihon Superior Co., Ltd. and the UK EPSRC (Grant # EP/M002241/1) for funding and K. Sweatman for valuable discussions.


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Gourlay
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. A. Belyakov
    • 1
  • Z. L. Ma
    • 1
  • J. W. Xian
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MaterialsImperial CollegeLondonUK

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