How Many Peripheral Solder Joints in a Surface Mounted Design Experience Inelastic Strains?

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Journal of Electronic Materials

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It has been established that it is the peripheral solder joints that are the most vulnerable in the ball-grid-array (BGA) and column-grid-array (CGA) designs and most often fail. As far as the long-term reliability of a soldered microelectronics assembly as a whole is concerned, it makes a difference, if just one or more peripheral joints experience inelastic strains. It is clear that the low cycle fatigue lifetime of the solder system is inversely proportional to the number of joints that simultaneously experience inelastic strains. A simple and physically meaningful analytical expression (formula) is obtained for the prediction, at the design stage, of the number of such joints, if any, for the given effective thermal expansion (contraction) mismatch of the package and PCB; materials and geometrical characteristics of the package/PCB assembly; package size; and, of course, the level of the yield stress in the solder material. The suggested formula can be used to determine if the inelastic strains in the solder material could be avoided by the proper selection of the above characteristics and, if not, how many peripheral joints are expected to simultaneously experience inelastic strains. The general concept is illustrated by a numerical example carried out for a typical BGA package. The suggested analytical model (formula) is applicable to any soldered microelectronics assembly. The roles of other important factors, such as, e.g., solder material anisotropy, grain size, and their random orientation within a joint, are viewed in this analysis as less important factors than the level of the interfacial stress. The roles of these factors will be accounted for in future work and considered, in addition to the location of the joint, in a more complicated, more sophisticated, and more comprehensive reliability/fatigue model.