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The formation and morphological evolution of germanides formed in a ternary Ni/Ta-interlayer/Ge system were examined by ex situ and in situ annealing experiments. The Ni germanide film formed in the Ni/Ta-interlayer/Ge system maintained continuity up to 550°C, whereas agglomeration of the Ni germanide occurred in the Ni/Ge system without Ta-interlayer. Through microstructural and chemical analysis of the Ni/Ta-interlayer/Ge system during and after in situ annealing in a transmission electron microscope, it was confirmed that the Ta atoms remained uniformly on the top of the newly formed Ni germanide layer during the diffusion reaction. Consequently, the agglomeration of the Ni germanide film was retarded and the thermal stability was improved by the Ta incorporation.
Analytical electron microscopy (AEM) was used to examine the initial interfacial reaction layers between a eutectic Sn–3.5Ag solder and an electroless nickel-immersion gold-plated (ENIG) Cu substrate during reflow at 255 °C for 1 s. AEM confirmed that a thick upper (Au,Ni)Sn2 layer and a thin Ni3Sn4 layer had formed through the reaction between the solder and ENIG. The amorphous electroless Ni(P) plated layer transformed into two P-rich Ni layers. One is a crystallized P-rich Ni layer, and the other is an intermediate state P-rich Ni layer before the crystallization. The crystallized P-rich layer consisted of Ni2P and Ni12P5. A thin Ni2P layer had formed underneath the Ni3Sn4 layer and is believed to be a predecessor of the Ni2SnP ternary phase. A Ni12P5 phase was observed beneath the Ni2P thin layer. In addition, nanocrystalline Ni was found to coexist with the amorphous Ni(P) phase in the intermediate state P-rich Ni layer.
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