Relative effect of solder flux chemistry on the humidity related failures in electronics

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Purpose - This paper aims to investigate the effect of no-clean flux chemistry with various weak organic acids (WOAs) as activators on the corrosion reliability of electronics with emphasis on the hygroscopic nature of the residue. Design/methodology/approach - The hygroscopicity of flux residue was studied by quartz crystal microbalance, while corrosive effects were studied by leakage current and impedance measurements on standard test boards. The measurements were performed as a function of relative humidity (RH) in the range from 60 to ~99 per cent at 25°C. The corrosiveness of solder flux systems was visualized by the ex situ analysis using a gel with tin ion indicator. Findings - The results showed that the solder flux residues are characterized by different threshold RH, above which a sudden increase in direct current leakage by 2-4 orders of magnitude and a significant reduction in surface resistance in the impedance measurements were observed. Practical implications - The findings are attributed to the deliquescence RH of the WOA(s) in the flux and chemistry of water-layer formation. The results show the importance of WOA type in relation to its solubility and deliquescence RH on the corrosion reliability of printed circuit boards under humid conditions. Originality/value - The classification of solder flux systems according to IPC J-STD-004 standard does not specify the WOAs in the flux; however, ranking of the flux systems based on the hygroscopic property of activators would be useful information when selecting no-clean flux systems for electronics with applications in humid conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoldering & Surface Mount Technology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)146-156
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Flux
  • Impedance
  • Corrosion
  • Reliability
  • Metal dissolution
  • Quality control
  • Flux chemistry
  • Leakage current
  • Reliability of electronics
  • Deliquescence

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