Mechanical fatigue of Sn-rich Pb-free solder alloys

J. K. Shang, Q. L. Zeng, L. Zhang, Q. S. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent fatigue studies of Sn-rich Pb-free solder alloys are reviewed to provide an overview of the current understanding of cyclic deformation, cyclic softening, fatigue crack initiation, fatigue crack growth, and fatigue life behavior in these alloys. Because of their low melting temperatures, these alloys demonstrated extensive cyclic creep deformation at room temperature. Limited amount of data have shown that the cyclic creep rate is strongly dependent on stress amplitude, peak stress, stress ratio and cyclic frequency. At constant cyclic strain amplitudes, most Sn-rich alloys exhibit cycle-dependent and cyclic softening. The softening is more pronounced at larger strain amplitudes and higher temperatures, and in fine grain structures. Characteristic of these alloys, fatigue cracks tend to initiate at grain and phase boundaries very early in the fatigue life, involving considerable amount of grain boundary cavitation and sliding. The growth of fatigue cracks in these alloys may follow both transgranular and intergranular paths, depending on the stress ratio and frequency of the cyclic loading. At low stress ratios and high frequencies, fatigue crack growth rate correlates well with the range of stress intensities or J-integrals but the time-dependent C* integral provides a better correlation with the crack velocity at high stress ratios and low frequencies. The fatigue life of the alloys is a strong function of the strain amplitude, cyclic frequency, temperature, and microstructure. While a few sets of fatigue life data are available, these data, when analyzed in terms of the Coffin-Mason equation, showed large variations, with the fatigue ductility exponent ranging from - 0.43 to - 1.14 and the fatigue ductility from 0.04 to 20.9. Several approaches have been suggested to explain the differences in the fatigue life behavior, including revision of the Coffin-Mason analysis and use of alternative fatigue life models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-227
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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