Tin pest in Sn-0.5 wt.% Cu lead-free solder

Kariya, Yoshiharu; Williams, Naomi; Gagg, Colin and Plumbridge, William (2001). Tin pest in Sn-0.5 wt.% Cu lead-free solder. JOM Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, 53(6) pp. 39–41.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11837-001-0101-0


Tin pest (the product of the allotropic transformation of β-tin into α-tin at temperatures below 286 K) has been observed in a Sn-0.5 wt.% Cu solder alloy. Some 40 percent of the specimen surface was transformed into gray tin after aging at 255K for 1.5 years, and after 1.8 years, the proportion increased to about 70 percent. The degree of transformation in work-hardened areas is much higher than in other areas, suggesting residual stress might provide an additional driving force for the transformation into α-tin. The allotropic change results in a 26 percent increase in volume, and cracks are initiated to accommodate the changes in volume. Results indicate that tin pest could lead to total disintegration of micro-electronic solder joints. The tin-copper eutectic system may become a prominent lead-free solder, and tin pest could have major ramifications on service lifetime of electronic assemblies.

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