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Effects of Reflow Profile and Thermal Conditioning on Intermetallic Compound Thickness for SnAgCu Soldered Joints
Soldering & Surface Mount Technology
  • Jianbiao Pan, California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
  • Tzu-Chien Chou, IBM Taiwan
  • Jasbir Bath, Bath Technical Consultancy
  • Dennis Willie, Flextronics International
  • Brian J. Toleno, Henkel Technologies
Publication Date

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of reflow time, reflow peak temperature, thermal shock and thermal aging on the intermetallic compound (IMC) thickness for Sn3.0Ag0.5Cu (SAC305) soldered joints.
Design/methodology/approach – A four-factor factorial design with three replications is selected in the experiment. The input variables are the peak temperature, the duration of time above solder liquidus temperature (TAL), solder alloy and thermal shock. The peak temperature has three levels, 12, 22 and 32°C above solder liquidus temperatures (or 230, 240 and 250°C for SAC305 and 195, 205, and 215°C for SnPb). The TAL has two levels, 30 and 90 s. The thermally shocked test vehicles are subjected to air-to-air thermal shock conditioning from -40 to 125°C with 30 min dwell times (or 1 h/cycle) for 500 cycles. Samples both from the initial time zero and after thermal shock are cross-sectioned. The IMC thickness is measured using scanning electron microscopy. Statistical analyses are conducted to compare the difference in IMC thickness growth between SAC305 solder joints and SnPb solder joints, and the difference in IMC thickness growth between after thermal shock and after thermal aging.
Findings – The IMC thickness increases with higher reflow peak temperature and longer time above liquidus. The IMC layer of SAC305 soldered joints is statistically significantly thicker than that of SnPb soldered joints when reflowed at comparable peak temperatures above liquidus and the same time above liquidus. Thermal conditioning leads to a smoother and thicker IMC layer. Thermal shock contributes to IMC growth merely through high-temperature conditioning. The IMC thickness increases in SAC305 soldered joints after thermal shock or thermal aging are generally in agreement with prediction models such as that proposed by Hwang.
Research limitations/implications – It is still unknown which thickness of IMC layer could result in damage to the solder.
Practical implications – The IMC thickness of all samples is below 3 µm for both SnPb and SAC305 solder joints reflowed at the peak temperature ranging from 12 to 32°C above liquidus temperature and at times above liquidus ranging from 30 to 90 s. The IMC thickness is below 4 µm after subjecting to air-to-air thermal shock from -40 to 125°C with 30 min dwell time for 500 cycles or thermal aging at 125°C for 250 h.
Originality/value – The paper reports experimental results of IMC thickness at different thermal conditions. The application is useful for understanding the thickness growth of the IMC layer at various thermal conditions.

Citation Information
Jianbiao Pan, Tzu-Chien Chou, Jasbir Bath, Dennis Willie, et al.. "Effects of Reflow Profile and Thermal Conditioning on Intermetallic Compound Thickness for SnAgCu Soldered Joints" Soldering & Surface Mount Technology Vol. 21 Iss. 4 (2009) p. 32 - 37
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