Ab initio surface properties of Ag–Sn alloys: implications for lead-free soldering
Ag and Sn are the major components of solder alloys adopted to assemble printed circuit boards. The qualities that make them the alloys of choice for the modern electronic industry are related to their physical and chemical properties. For corrosion resistance and solderability, surface properties are particularly important. Yet, atomic-level information about the surfaces of these alloys is not known. Here we fill this gap by presenting an extensive ab initio investigation of composition, energetics, structure and reactivity of Ag–Sn alloy surfaces. The structure and stability of various surfaces is evaluated, and the main factors determining the energetics of surface formation are uncovered. Oxygen and sulphur chemisorptions are studied and discussed in the framework of corrosion tendency, an important issue for printed circuit boards. Adsorption energy trends are rationalized based on the analysis of structural and electronic features.