The European Union is banning the use of Pb in electronic products starting July 1st, 2006. Printed circuit board assemblies or “motherboards” require that planned CPU sockets and BGA chipsets use lead-free solder ball compositions at the second level interconnections (SLI) to attach to a printed circuit board (PCB) and survive various assembly and reliability test conditions for end-use deployment. Intel is pro-actively preparing for this anticipated Pb ban, by evaluating a new lead free (LF) solder alloy in the ternary Tin- Silver-Copper (Sn4.0Ag0.5Cu) system and developing higher temperature board assembly processes. This will be pursued with a focus on achieving the lowest process temperature required to avoid deleterious higher temperature effects and still achieve a metallurgically compatible solder joint. One primary factor is the elevated peak reflow temperature required for surface mount technology (SMT) LF assembly, which is approximately 250 °C compared to present eutectic tin/lead (Sn37Pb) reflow temperatures of around 220 °C. In addition, extended SMT time-above-liquidus (TAL) and subsequent cooling rates are also a concern not only for the critical BGA chipsets and CPU BGA sockets but to other components similarly attached to the same PCB substrate. PCBs used were conventional FR-4 substrates with organic solder preservative on the copper pads and mechanical daisychanged FCBGA components with direct immersion gold surface finish on their copper pads. However, a materials analysis method and approach is also required to characterize and evaluate the effect of low peak temperature LF SMT processing on the PBA SLI to identify the absolute limits or “cliffs” and determine if the minimum processing temperature and TAL could be further lowered. The SLI system is characterized using various microanalytical techniques, such as, conventional optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy and microhardness testing. In addition, the SLI is further characterized using macroanalytical techniques such as dye penetrant testing (DPT) with controlled tensile testing for mechanical strength in addition to disbond and crack area mapping to complete the analysis.

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