Journal of SMT Article

Corrosion Study of Lead-Free Solders Exposed to Artificial Sweat

Authors: Laura Sloboda, Thomas Kennedy, Julie Liu, Deepchand Ramjattan, Nancy Wang and Laura J. Turbini
Company: University of Waterloo and BlackBerry
Date Published: 7/31/2013   Volume: 26-3

Abstract: The functionality of today's smart phones has expanded beyond the mobile phone to include e-mail, calendar, contacts, text messaging, photography, music, web surfing, gaming, etc. The smart phone’s use has become pervasive in recent years since Facebook, You Tube and Twitter became popular. People are using them everywhere including the gym during their workouts. Under these circumstances, sweat can enter the phone through one of several openings - the USB port, the microphone, the headset port or the keypad and may corrode the metal solder joints inside the phone, rendering it inoperable. Thus, the corrosion of lead-free solders through exposure to sweat is a topic of interest for the mobile electronics industry.

The intent of this research was to investigate the corrosion behavior and shear strength of various lead free solder alloys after exposure to different artificial sweat solutions. The alloys tested – Sn-3.0Ag-0.5Cu, Sn-0.7Cu-0.05Ni+Ge, Sn-3.5Ag-1.0Cu-3.0Bi and Sn-1.0Ag-0.7Cu-1.6Bi-0.2In – were investigated using three artificial sweat solutions with varying chloride concentrations and acidity. The surface morphology and corrosion product compositions were determined using optical and SEM/EDX analysis. The effect of corrosion on the mechanical properties of these alloys before and after exposure to the sweat was measured using shear strength tests.


Lead-free solder alloys, corrosion, artificial sweat

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