The thermal stability of alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers on copper for fluxless soldering applications

The ability of alkanethiol monolayers deposited on copper to prevent surface oxidation has suggested their application as preservatives for fluxless soldering. However, the utility of such coatings for this purpose will critically depend on their ability to continue to preserve the substrate during exposure to elevated temperatures throughout the electronics manufacturing process. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to systematically determine the effect of storage temperature and duration on the ability of alkanethiol coated copper samples to undergo fluxless soldering. Similarly, the effect of pre-heating copper immediately prior to soldering is also investigated. The effect of reducing atmospheric oxygen concentration during storage and soldering is also considered as a potential route to improve the thermal resilience of the coatings. Parallel to ascertaining these industrially relevant performance parameters, a quantitative correlation between surface chemistry and solder wetting is established, and the temperature dependence of the kinetics of surface oxidation through an alkanethiol barrier layer is discussed.