BGA lead-free C5 solder system improvement by germanium addition to Sn3.5Ag and Sn-3.8Ag-0.7Cu solder alloy

Eu Poh Leng, Wong Tzu Ling, Nowshad Amin, Ibrahim Ahmad, Tay Yee Han, Chin Wen Chiao, A. S M A Haseeb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental and health concerns have resulted in significant activities to find substitutes for lead-contained solders for microelectronics. The potential candidates such as Sn-Ag1 and Sn-Ag-Cu1 eutectic solders with melting temperatures of 221°C and 217°C, respectively are the most prominent solders because of their excellent mechanical properties as compared with that of eutectic Sn-Pb solder2. Other candidates as drop in replacements for eutectic Pb-Sn solder, such as Sn-In-Zn alloys, may have melting point close to 185°C, though not eutectic, and an acceptable solidification range but have received only limited attention due to various reasons & concerns1. In semiconductor packaging industry, lead-free solders such as Sn-Ag1 and Sn-Ag-Cu1 have been widely applied in mass production of ball grid array products. Such alloys are often used for C5 solder system. However, one of the major challenges is oxidation after thermal processing such as reflow, burn-in, data retention bake and hot temperature testing. A study was conducted on BGA lead-free C5 solder joint system to assess the effect of Germanium (Ge) addition to Sn3.5Ag and Sn3.8Ag0.7Cu solder alloy. The main objective of this study is to find a way to resolve solder surface oxidation after thermal processes, while determining if there's any adverse effect on the solder joint by Ge addition. Experimental works were carried out to observe the melting properties and solder surface morphology by Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and SEM. Solder surface oxidation was measured by EDX. Shear and pull strength was measured by Dage which is representative of the intermetallic (IMC) strength between the C5 solder sphere and Cu/Ni/Au pad finishing. Solderability test was conducted per Jedec standard. Tray and Packaging Drop Tests were done to gauge solder joint performance against impact force. A comprehensive study was done to study the effect of microstructure and interface intermetallic of both solder system at ambient, high temperature storage (HTS) at 150°C for 24, 48, 96, 168, 504 and 2000 hours and multiple reflow of 1x, 2x, 3x, 6x towards the joint integrity. Overall, Ge doped alloys had significantly higher ball shear and ball pull strength. EPMA microstructure analysis after cross-sectioning on bulk solder and IMC revealed traces of Ge that contributed to the significant increase in ball shear and ball pull strength, while did not cause any bulk solder and IMC morphology changes. Solderability test passed. Drop tests had comparable performance as non Ge doped alloys. In conclusion, addition of Ge in Sn3.5Ag and Sn3.8Ag0.7Cu lead-free solder alloys is able to resolve surface oxidation problem after thermal processing, with improvement in solder joint strength for overall lead-free package robustness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEPTC 2009 - Proceedings of 2009 11th Electronic Packaging Technology Conference
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event2009 11th Electronic Packaging Technology Conference, EPTC 2009 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 09 Dec 200911 Dec 2009


Other2009 11th Electronic Packaging Technology Conference, EPTC 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Cite this

Leng, E. P., Ling, W. T., Amin, N., Ahmad, I., Han, T. Y., Chiao, C. W., & Haseeb, A. S. M. A. (2009). BGA lead-free C5 solder system improvement by germanium addition to Sn3.5Ag and Sn-3.8Ag-0.7Cu solder alloy. In EPTC 2009 - Proceedings of 2009 11th Electronic Packaging Technology Conference (pp. 82-91). [5416568]