Sn-Ag-Cu (SAC) alloy is currently recognized as the standard lead-free solder alloy for packaging of interconnects in the electronics industry, and high- Ag-content SAC alloys are the most popular choice. However, this choice has been encumbered by the fragility of the solder joints that has been observed in drop testing as well as the high cost of the Ag itself. Therefore, low-Ag-content SAC alloy was considered as a solution for both issues. However, this approach may compromise the thermal-cycling performance of the solders. Therefore, to enhance the thermal-cycling reliability of low-Ag-content SAC alloys without sacrificing their drop-impact performance, alloying elements such as Mn, Ce, Ti, Bi, In, Sb, Ni, Zn, Al, Fe, and Co were selected as additions to these alloys. However, research reports related to these modified SAC alloys are limited. To address this paucity, the present study reviews the effect of these minor alloying elements on the solder joint reliability of low-Ag-content SAC alloys in terms of thermal cycling and drop impact. Addition of Mn, Ce, Bi, and Ni to low-Ag-content SAC solder effectively improves the thermal-cycling reliability of joints without sacrificing the drop-impact performance. Taking into consideration the improvement in the bulk alloy microstructure and mechanical properties, wetting properties, and growth suppression of the interface intermetallic compound (IMC) layers, addition of Ti, In, Sb, Zn, Al, Fe, and Co to low-Ag-content SAC solder has the potential to improve the thermal-cycling reliability of joints without sacrificing the drop-impact performance. Consequently, further investigations of both thermal-cycling and drop reliability of these modified solder joints must be carried out in future work.
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