Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of silver nanoparticle additions on the wetting properties of Sn‐Ag‐Cu (SAC) solder paste. In this investigation, the basic solder paste contained 85 wt.% of commercial Sn 96.5 Ag 3 Cu 0.5 powder (with the particle sizes in the range of 20‐38 μ m) and 15 wt.% of self‐prepared middle activated rosin flux. To this paste was added 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 wt.% of self‐prepared silver nano‐powders of different grain sizes (from 9 to 138 nm). After the pastes had stabilized, their wetting properties were tested. The main goal of these investigations was to improve the wetting properties of SAC solder paste and to find correlations between the results of the wetting of solder paste with nanoparticles on the copper substrate with the microstructure of the solder joints. Design/methodology/approach – The following methods were applied for the wetting solder paste investigation: spreading on the copper substrate, contact angle measurement on the copper and wetting on a FR‐4 laminate double sided with an 18‐ μ m thick copper foil. The investigations were performed at temperatures of 220, 230, 240 and 250°C. Cross‐sectioning was performed on the solder paste after reflow on the copper substrate. For the microstructural analysis of the “nano” modified solder joints obtained at 250°C, standard metallographic procedures were applied. Changes in the microstructure, the thickness of the inter‐metallic compounds (IMCs) and their chemical compositions were observed by means of scanning electron microscope (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). Findings – As expected, a higher silver nanoparticle addition to the SAC solder paste resulted in better wetting properties on copper. The results indicated the possibility of an improvement of the reflow soldering process by using SAC solder paste with silver nanoparticles and by lowering its soldering temperature. An improvement was also observed in the wettability with a decrease in the silver nanoparticle grain size. Also, the wettability proceeded at a lower temperature (20°C lower) than that for the SAC paste, without the nano‐additives. For the 4 per cent silver nanoparticle addition, Ag 3 Sn star‐like IMCs were also found, which grew with the lowering of the silver nanoparticle grain size. Research limitations/implications – Further studies are necessary for confirmation of the practical application, especially of the mechanical properties, as well as the reliability properties of the solder joints, for the chosen solder paste with silver nanoparticles. Practical implications – Taking into account the wetting data, the best results of the “nano” SAC solder pastes were obtained for the highest addition of the silver nanoparticles. It was found that the spreading on copper was higher and the contact angles were lower for the SAC solder paste with 4 per cent (by wt.) of 138‐nm grain size silver nanoparticles. A comparison of SAC solder pastes with a 4 per cent silver nanoparticle addition but of a different grain size (138‐9 nm), suggested a further improvement in wetting properties with lowering of the silver nanoparticle grain size. The results suggested the possibility of an improvement in the reflow soldering process by using SAC solder paste with silver nanoparticles and by lowering its soldering temperature. Originality/value – Spreading, wetting and contact angle measurement methods were used for the wetting determination of the SAC solder paste with the silver nanoparticles on copper under the same temperature conditions. Also, the microstructure of the solder joints obtained at 250°C was determined with the use of SEM and EDS methods. The results obtained made it possible to draw conclusions regarding the correlation between the output of the wetting results and the amount and the grain size of the added silver nanoparticles, and also the microstructure and thickness of the IMCs of the “nano” solder joints.
Soldering & Surface Mount Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 28, 2011
Keywords: Solder paste; Wetting; Silver; Alloys; Metallurgy; Nanoparticle addition; Microstructure of “nano” solder joints
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