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Cracking was observed in the side walls of gold (Au) filled vias in low-temperature, co-fired ceramic (LTCC) substrates. Further analysis indicated the likely source as the constituents of the glassy phase component of the gold platinum-palladium (Au-Pt-Pd) thick film used for the conductor traces and pads. The successful approach toward mitigating the cracking phenomenon was to place a Au thick film layer between the Au-Pt-Pd layer and the LTCC substrate, which significantly curtailed the diffusion of glassy phase components into the latter. However, it was necessary to determine the effects of the additional thick film layer on the microstructure and overall mechanical strength of tin-lead (Sn-Pb) solder joints made to device pads. Acceptable pull strengths were measured in the range of 3.5 – 4.0 lbs. The solder joint pull strength was sensitive to the number of firing steps as defined by the thick film layer construction. Both the solder/thick film and thick film/LTCC interface strengths had roles in this trend, thereby affirming the synergism between material, interfaces, and the firing processes The pull strength was optimized when the pad length ratio, 4596:5742, was 1.0:0.5, which was characterized by a reduced occurrence of the thick film/LTCC failure mode.
Date of Conference: 3-5 Oct. 2007