Effect of Ag on the microstructure of Sn-8.5Zn-xAg-0.01Al-0.1Ga solders under high-temperature and high-humidity conditions

T. K. Yeh*, U. S. Mohanty, Kwang Lung Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of Ag on the microstructure and thermal behavior of Sn-Zn and Sn-8.5Zn-xAg-0.01Al-0.1Ga solders (x from 0.1 wt.% to 1 wt.%) under high-temperature/relative humidity conditions (85 C/85% RH) for various exposure times was investigated. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies revealed that, in all the investigated solders, the primary α-Zn phases were surrounded by eutectic β-Sn/α-Zn phases, in which fine Zn platelets were dispersed in the β-Sn matrix. SEM micrographs revealed that increase of the Ag content to 1 wt.% resulted in coarsening of the dendritic plates and diminished the Sn-9Zn eutectic phase in the microstructure. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) studies revealed that the melting temperature of Sn-8.5Zn-xAg-0.01Al-0.1Ga solder decreased from 199.6 C to 199.2 C with increase of the Ag content in the solder alloy. Both ZnO and SnO2 along with Ag-Zn intermetallic compound (IMC) were formed on the surface when Sn-8.5Zn-0.5Ag-0.01Al-0.1Ga solder was exposed to high-temperature/high-humidity conditions (85 C/85% RH) for 100 h. The thickness of the ZnO phase increased as the Ag content and exposure time were increased. Sn whiskers of various shapes and lengths varying from 2 μm to 5 μm were extruded from the surface when the investigated five-element solder with Ag content varying from 0.5 wt.% to 1 wt.% was exposed to similar temperature/humidity conditions for 250 h. The length and density of the whiskers increased with further increase of the exposure time to 500 h and the Ag content in the solder to 1 wt.%. The Sn whisker growth was driven by the compressive stress in the solder, which was generated due to the volume expansion caused by ZnO and Ag-Zn intermetallic compound formation at the grain boundaries of Sn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-627
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • intermetallic compound
  • Lead-free solder
  • microstructure
  • Sn-Zn-Ag-Al-Ga
  • temperature and humidity exposure


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