Size effects in tin-based lead-free solder joints: kinetics of bond formation and mechanical characteristics
Continuous miniaturization of microelectronic interconnects demands smaller joints with comparable microstructural and structural sizes. As the size of joints become smaller, the volume of intermetallics (IMCs) becomes comparable with the joint size. As a result, the kinetics of bond formation changes and the types and thicknesses of IMC phases that form within the constrained region of the bond varies. Furthermore, the size of the grains becomes comparable with the size of the bond and the bond may only consist of a few grains resulting in an anisotropic behavior. The effect of size of solder joints on mechanical behavior is not clearly understood and contradicting results have been reported. Studies have shown that some size effects introduced strengthening effects while others have shown weakening effects associated with decreasing joint size. While numerous studies have been dedicated to evaluating elastic and plastic properties of a variety of solder alloys in bulk and large-scale (several 100s of microns) joint configurations, very few studies have been directed to address the elastic and plastic properties of joints in the scale of few microns. This dissertation focuses on investigating combination effects of process parameters and size on kinetics of bond formation, resulting microstructure and the mechanical properties of joints that are formed under structurally constrained conditions. An experiment is designed where several process parameters such as time of bonding, temperature, and pressure, and bond thickness as structural chracteristic, are varied at multiple levels. The experiment is then implemented on the process. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) is then utilized to determine the bond thickness, IMC phases and their thicknesses, and morphology of the bonds. Electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) is used to determine the grain size in different regions, including the bulk solder, and different IMC phases. Physics-based analytical models have been developed for growth kinetics of IMC compounds and are verified using the experimental results. Nanoindentation is used to determine the mechanical behavior of IMC phases in joints in different scales. Four-point bending notched multilayer specimen and four-point bending technique were used to determine fracture toughness of the bonds containing IMCs. Analytical modeling of peeling and shear stresses and fracture toughness in tri-layer four-point bend specimen containing intermetallic layer was developed and was verified and validated using finite element simulation and experimental results. The experiment is used in conjunction with the model to calculate and verify the fracture toughness of Cu6Sn5 IMC materials. As expected two different IMC phases, η-phase (Cu6Sn5) and ε-phase (Cu3Sn), were found in almost all the cases regardless of the process parameters and size levels. The physics-based analytical model was successfully able to capture the governing mechanisms of IMC growth: chemical reaction controlled and diffusion-controlled. Examination of microstructures of solder joints of different sizes revealed the size of the solder joint has no effect on the type of IMCs formed during the process. Joint size, however, affected the thickness of IMC layers significantly. IMC layers formed in the solder joints of smaller sizes were found to be thicker than those in the solder joints of larger sizes. The growth rate constants and activation energies of Cu3Sn IMC layer were also reported and related to joint thickness. In an effort to optimize the EBSD imaging in the multi-layer configuration, an improved specimen preparation technique and optimum software parameters were determined. Nanoindentation results show that size effects play a major role on the mechanical properties of micro-scale solder joints. Smaller joints show higher Young's modulus, hardness, and yield strength and lower work hardening exponents comparing to thicker joints. To obtain the stress concentration factors in a multilayer specimen with IMC layer as bonding material, a four-point bending notched configuration was used. The analytical solutions developed for peeling and shear stresses in notched structure were used to evaluate the stresses at IMC interface layers. Results were in good agreement with the finite-element simulation. The values of interfacial stresses were utilized in obtaining fracture toughness of the IMC material.