Mechanical strength, integrity, and reliability of solder connections used in the microelectronics industry are important factors in overall quality and reliability of the finished product. In most cases tin (Sn) rich solders are attached to a base metal plated with nickel (Ni) and then with gold (Au). Formation of AuSn4 intermetallics in the solder may result in loss of more than 80% of the initial impact toughness, resulting in loss of reliability of the connection. Gold (Au) embrittlement is a major concern in tin/lead (Sn/Pb) soldering or any other joining process with Au and Sn as major constituents. Noncompliance to Au plating-thickness specifications by vendors or insufficient Sn wicking of Au surfaces can result in embrittled joints and unreliable parts.

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