Effect of intermetallic compounds on thermomechanical reliability of lead-free solder interconnects for flip-chips

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Gupta, Piyush
Tummala, Rao R.
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Georgia Techs Packaging Research Centers vision of System on Package (SOP) requires that the ball grid array (BGA) package be eliminated and the integrated circuit (IC) directly assembled on the printed wiring board (PWB). Flip-Chip on board (FCOB) emerges as a viable solution which meets the industry requirements of (i) increased I/O, (ii) increased functionality and (iii) improved performance at lower costs. Nevertheless flip-chip on board (FCOB) reliability continues to be an important concern in electronic packaging industry. Moreover transition to Pb-free solder for interconnects and continuously shrinking geometries result in new modeling challenges. In addition, the integrity of the intermetallics (IMCs) at the interfaces of the solder/PWB and solder/die is one of the determinant factors in the reliability and continuity of electrical signals in flip-chip interconnects. Pb-free solder studies for the flip-chip assembly studies are limited and simplified so far, not fully incorporating the effect of intermetallics in the reliability. New modeling challenges involve many details, from geometry to material properties. A brittle IMC will lead to a fracture at the interface. Also IMC thickness can cause the variation in stresses in the underlying layers, causing delamination. Moreover IMC morphology can also depend on the metal finishes on the PWB. In this work, a combined numerical and experimental program has been developed to address the challenges mentioned above. The flip-chip on board assembly is modeled in 3-D for reliability studies, taking into consideration material non linearities and a 104 order of geometric variation to capture the die size in mm to sub-micron intermetallic thickness. The study intends to determine the stresses induced at the critical interfaces under thermo-mechanical loading incorporating the intermetallic material properties. Various failure modes of these assemblies were studied. Experiments were carried out for comparative reliability studies of Pb-free solder with eutectic Pb-based solder. Intermetallic formation and growth are characterized during thermal aging and its effect on reliability is determined. Parameters affecting intermetallic like under-bump Metallurgy (UBM) thicknesses are varied and its effect evaluated. Moreover experiments with three new substrate pad finishes on PWB are carried out to evaluate them as an alternative to Electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) for new Pb-free solder. The final aim of this study is to reach a better understanding of the reliability issues in FCOB.
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