Thermal fatigue failures of solder joints in electronic devices are a great concern in the electronics industry. Since the fatigue load is often in shear the details of thermal fatigue failure in shear are of particular interest. Recent work indicates that similar failure mechanisms operate in both thermal fatigue in shear and unidirectional creep in shear. Additionally, since the operative temperatures during thermal fatigue represent high solder homologous temperatures, creep deformation is certainly involved. These factors and the relative case of conducting creep experiments encourage the study of solder joints under shear creep conditions. This work presents steady state shear creep rate vs. shear stress data for several solder compositions, including the binary eutectic alloy and Pb-Sn alloyed with small amounts of Bi, Cd, In, and Sb, in a joint configuration. These data indicate that conventional creep mechanisms operate in the temperature and shear strain rate ranges studies. Extensive microstructural information is also reported. The microstructural evolution under creep conditions indicates that the instability of the as-cast binary Pb-Sn eutectic microstructure initiates creep failure. Changes of the as-solidified microstructure with the third element addition are reported as are the microstructural responses of each of these alloys to creep deformation. The efficacy of postponing the microstructural instability with the addition of small amounts of ternary elements is discussed.

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