The electrodeposition of tin coatings from deep eutectic solvents and their subsequent whisker growth

2015-06-22T09:05:15Z (GMT) by Christopher Stuttle
Tin electrodeposits produced from aqueous electrolytes are frequently used within the electronics industry due to their high solderability and corrosion protection. One limitation to using these deposits is their spontaneous formation of long conductive filament whiskers. These whiskers grow post-electrodeposition and increase the risk of unwanted electrical shorts within electronic devices. In this thesis, tin electrodeposits produced from a proprietary bright acid Tinmac electrolyte, currently used in industry, were studied. Electrodeposits were produced using a range of current densities with and without agitation and were characterised with respect to crystallographic orientation, topography and surface finish. Moreover, the intermetallic compound (IMC) growth produced at the copper substrate-tin coating interface was assessed over a period of time as its growth is considered to be a significant driving force behind whisker formation. In addition, a technique for the electrochemical anodic oxidation of tin electrodeposits on copper substrates was developed. This technique was used throughout this project for the study of IMC growth from tin electrodeposits as it was able to effectively remove the tin whilst leaving the IMCs and substrate unaffected. Ionic liquids exhibit promising electrochemical characteristics for electrodeposition but are still not widely utilised in industry. Their ability to deposit tin coatings has been studied in the present investigation. Trials concentrated on process optimisation to produce uniform electrodeposits by varying current density, SnCl2.2H2O concentration, and electrolyte composition. These deposits were then characterised and compared to tin coatings of similar thickness produced from Tinmac with respect to topography, surface finish, crystallographic orientation, IMC growth, and whisker propensity. Electrodeposits produced from the ionic liquid electrolyte exhibited a different crystallographic texture, topography, and IMC growth compared to those produced from Tinmac. Moreover, the deposit produced from the ionic liquid featured increased whisker growth compared to those produced from Tinmac, but in a wider context, far less growth than conventional tin electrodeposits in the literature. In addition, by exploiting other electrochemical characteristics of ionic liquids, such as their large potential window, future work may be able to produce novel tin or tin alloy electrodeposits which may further reduce the whisker propensity of deposits produced in this investigation.