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Title: Lead-free solder technology
Author: Weller, Sean David Tomey
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2010
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Aerospace applications typically require electronic products with not only higher levels of reliability than the consumer electronics industry but also longer service lives within demanding working environments. The transition will inevitably mean changes to design and manufacturing procedures, which is likely to incur a significant cost to the business. For example, the best candidate Pb-free solder alloys have been shown to require higher soldering temperatures and have higher surface tensions. Moreover, a reduction in product safety and reliability is not acceptable to the industry. This present work is divided into three sections. Firstly, the effect of increased component soldering temperatures on the integrity of the epoxy laminate material used for manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCB) has been assessed. Secondly, the required changes in soldering process parameters have been investigated for a range of solders and PCB finishes, largely due to the different wetting characteristics brought about by the increased surface tension of the Pb-free solders. Thirdly, the reliability of SnAgCu solder is assessed in comparison to the currently utilised SnPbAg solder alloy. This has been achieved firstly by accelerated thermal cycling, as the dominant mode of failure in a solder joint is typically thermo-mechanical fatigue and as such is already well researched. In addition, the mechanical fatigue properties have been assessed using a novel accelerated vibration test method and then finally, the two individual accelerated environmental tests of thermal cycling and vibration have been combined in a novel way to assess whether the combination is especially dangerous for SnAgCu solder reliability. A secondary objective of the combined environment test was to see if the well established thermal cycling test method for demonstration of product reliability can be further accelerated while still producing solder joint failure representative of those in-service. The present work shows that SnAgCu solder has inferior thermo-mechanical and mechanical fatigue life to SnPbAg solder. A combined environment test has been developed which effectively combines the single environments of thermal and vibration. The combination of thermal cycling with superimposed vibration is especially dangerous for SnAgCu solder, where an 89% reduction in the characteristic life is observed when compared to the equivalent thermal cycling characteristic life. It is suspected that a large reduction in life will be observed in SnPbAg solder, but not as pronounced as SnAgCu due to SnPbAg solders ability to better withstand plastic deformation that is induced by thermal cycling.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Aero Engine Controls
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy