Electromigration and thermomigration reliability of lead-free solder joints for advanced packaging applications



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Electromigration (EM) and thermomigration (TM) reliability of Pb-free solder joints are emerging as critical concerns in advanced packages. In this study, EM and TM phenomena in Sn-2.5Ag solder joints with thick Cu or thin Ni under-bump metallurgy (UBM) were investigated. A series of EM tests were performed to obtain activation energy (Q) and current density exponent (n), and to understand failure mechanisms. Joule heating was also taken into account. Q and n values were determined as follows: for Cu UBM solders, Q = 1.0 eV and n = 1.5; for Ni UBM solders, Q = 0.9 and n = 2.2. Important factors limiting EM reliability of Pb-free solder joints were found to be UBM dissolution with extensive intermetallic compound (IMC) growth and current crowding. IMC growth without current stressing was found to follow the parabolic growth law whereas linear growth law was observed for Cu₆Sn₅ and Ni₃Sn₄ under high current stressing. For Cu UBM solders, the apparent activation energy for IMC growth was consistent with the activation energy for EM, which supports that EM failure was closely related to IMC growth. In contrast, for Ni UBM solders the apparent activation energy was higher than the EM activation energy. It was suggested that the EM failure in the Ni UBM solders could be associated with more than one mass transport mechanism. The current crowding effect was analyzed with different thicknesses of Ni UBM. It was found that the maximum current density in solder could represent the current density term in Black's equation better than the average current density. FEM studies demonstrated that current crowding was mainly controlled by UBM thickness, metal trace design, and passivation opening diameter. A large temperature gradient of the order of 10³ °C/cm was generated across the sample to induce noticeable TM and to compare its effect against that of EM. TM-induced voiding was observed in Ni UBM solders while UBM dissolution with IMC formation occurred in Cu UBM solders. However, the relative effect of TM was found to be several times smaller than that of EM even at this large temperature gradient.