Six cases of reliability study of Pb-free solder joints in electronic packaging technology

K. Zeng, King-Ning Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1239 Scopus citations


Solder is widely used to connect chips to their packaging substrates in flip chip technology as well as in surface mount technology. At present, the electronic packaging industry is actively searching for Pb-free solders due to environmental concern of Pb-based solders. Concerning the reliability of Pb-free solders, some electronic companies are reluctant to adopt them into their high-end products. Hence, a review of the reliability behavior of Pb-free solders is timely. We use the format of "case study" to review six reliability problems of Pb-free solders in electronic packaging technology. We conducted analysis of these cases on the basis of thermodynamic driving force, time-dependent kinetic processes, and morphology and microstructure changes. We made a direct comparison to the similar problem in SnPb solder whenever it is available. Specifically, we reviewed: (1) interfacial reactions between Pb-free solder and thick metalliztion of bond-pad on the substrate-side, (2) interfacial reactions between Pb-free solder and thin-film under-bump metallization on the chip-side, (3) the growth of a layered intermetallic compound (IMC) by ripening in solid state aging of solder joints, (4) a long range interaction between chip-side and substrate-side metallizations across a solder joint, (5) electromigration in flip chip solder joints, and finally (6) Sn whisker growth on Pb-free finish on Cu leadframe. Perhaps, these cases may serve as helpful references to the understanding of other reliability behaviors of Pb-free solders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-105
Number of pages51
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: R: Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2002


  • Electromigration
  • Intermetallic compounds
  • Lead-free
  • Reliability
  • Sn whisker
  • Solder interfacial reaction
  • Solder joints

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