Abstract

A land-grid array connector, electrically connecting an array of plated contact pads on a ceramic substrate chip carrier to plated contact pads on a printed circuit board (PCB), failed in a year after assembly due to time-delayed fracture of multiple C-shaped spring connectors. The land-grid-array connectors analyzed had arrays of connectors consisting of gold on nickel plated Be-Cu C-shaped springs in compression that made electrical connections between the pads on the ceramic substrates and the PCBs. Metallography, fractography and surface analyses revealed the root cause of the C-spring connector fracture to be plating solutions trapped in deep grain boundary grooves etched into the C-spring connectors during the pre-plating cleaning operation. The stress necessary for the stress corrosion cracking mechanism was provided by the C-spring connectors, in the land-grid array, being compressed between the ceramic substrate and the printed circuit board.

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