Reliability of the solder joint largely depends on mechanical strength, fatigue resistance, coefficient of thermal expansion, and intermetallic compound formation. Cooling rate significantly affects the physical properties of an alloy and influences the mechanical behavior of solder joints. In the present study, Sn-9Zn lead-free solder alloy was solidified on Cu substrate under furnace cooling (0.04°C/s), air cooling (0.16°C/s), and water cooling (94°C/s) conditions. The effect of varying cooling rates on the intermetallic compound (IMC) formation at the interface and the resulting joint shear strength was studied. A microstructure study revealed the presence of Cu5Zn8 and CuZn5 intermetallic compounds at the solder-substrate interface. The IMC layer thickness at the interface increased with a decrease in the cooling rate. The joint shear strength increased with an increase in the cooling rate. The air and furnace cooling resulted in the formation of a thick IMC layer. The IMC obtained from the furnace cooling was associated with micro-cracks leading to a decrease in the joint shear strength.
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