The microstructure, mechanical response, and failure behavior of lead free solder joints in electronic assemblies are constantly evolving when exposed to isothermal aging and/or thermal cycling environments. In our prior work on aging effects, we have demonstrated that the observed material behavior degradations of Sn-Ag-Cu (SAC) lead free solders during room temperature aging (25 C) and elevated temperature aging (50, 75, 100, 125, and 150 C) were unexpectedly large. The measured stress-strain data demonstrated large reductions in stiffness, yield stress, ultimate strength, and strain to failure (up to 50%) during the first 6 months after reflow solidification.

In this study, we have used both accelerated life testing and finite element modeling to explore how prior isothermal aging affects the overall reliability of PBGA packages subjected to thermal cycling. In the experimental work, an extensive test matrix of thermal cycling reliability testing has been performed using a test vehicle incorporating several sizes (5, 10, 15, 19 mm) of BGA daisy chain components with 0.4 and 0.8 mm solder joint pitches (SAC305). PCB test boards with 3 different surface finishes (ImAg, ENIG and ENEPIG) were utilized. In this paper, we concentrate on the reporting the results for a PBGA component with 15 mm body size.

Before thermal cycling began, the assembled test boards were divided up into test groups that were subjected to several sets of aging conditions (preconditioning) including 0, 6, and 12 months aging at T = 125 °C. After aging, the assemblies were subjected to thermal cycling (−40 to +125 °C) until failure occurred. The Weibull data failure plots have demonstrated that the thermal cycling reliabilities of pre-aged assemblies were significantly less than those of non-aged assemblies.

A three-dimensional finite element model of the tested 15 mm PBGA packages was also developed. The cross-sectional details of the solder ball and the internal structure of the BGA were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to capture the real geometry of the package. Simulations of thermal cycling from −40 to 125 C were performed. To include the effects of aging in the calculations, we have used a revised set of Anand viscoplastic stress-strain relations for the SAC305 Pb-free solder material that includes material parameters that evolve with the thermal history of the solder material. The accumulated plastic work (energy density dissipation) was used is the failure variable; and the Darveaux approach to predict crack initiation and crack growth was applied with aging dependent parameters to estimate the fatigue lives of the studied packages. We have obtained good correlation between our new reliability modeling procedure that includes aging and the measured solder joint reliability data. As expected from our prior studies on degradation of SAC material properties with aging, the reliability reductions were more severe for higher aging temperature and longer aging times.

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