Potentiodynamic polarization techniques were employed in the present study to investigate the corrosion behavior of Pb-free Sn-1Ag-0.5Cu-XNi solder alloys in 3.5% NaCl solution. Polarization studies indicated that an increase in Ni content from 0.05 wt.% to 1 wt.% in the solder alloy shifted the corrosion potential (E corr) towards more negative values and increased the linear polarization resistance. Increased addition of Ni to 1 wt.% resulted in significant increase in the concentration of both Sn and Ni oxides on the outer surface. Secondary-ion mass spectrometry and Auger depth profile analysis revealed that oxides of tin contributed primarily towards the formation of the passive film on the surface of the solder alloys containing 0.05 wt.% and 1 wt.% Ni. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX) established the formation of a Sn whisker near the passive region of the solder alloy obtained from the polarization curves. The formation of Sn whiskers was due to the buildup of compressive stress generated by the increase in the volume of the oxides of Sn and Ni formed on the outer surface. The presence of Cl- was responsible for the breakdown of the passive film, and significant pitting corrosion in the form of distinct pits was noticed in Sn-1Ag-0.5Cu-0.5Ni solder alloy after the polarization experiment.
- Pb-free solder alloy