Document Type




Publication Date



IOP Science

Source Publication

Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering

Source ISSN



Innovations in relevant micro-contact areas are highlighted, these include, design, contact resistance modeling, contact materials, performance and reliability. For each area the basic theory and relevant innovations are explored. A brief comparison of actuation methods is provided to show why electrostatic actuation is most commonly used by radio frequency microelectromechanical systems designers. An examination of the important characteristics of the contact interface such as modeling and material choice is discussed. Micro-contact resistance models based on plastic, elastic-plastic and elastic deformations are reviewed. Much of the modeling for metal contact micro-switches centers around contact area and surface roughness. Surface roughness and its effect on contact area is stressed when considering micro-contact resistance modeling. Finite element models and various approaches for describing surface roughness are compared. Different contact materials to include gold, gold alloys, carbon nanotubes, composite gold-carbon nanotubes, ruthenium, ruthenium oxide, as well as tungsten have been shown to enhance contact performance and reliability with distinct trade offs for each. Finally, a review of physical and electrical failure modes witnessed by researchers are detailed and examined.


Accepted version. Journal of Macromechanics and Microengineering, Vol, 23, No. 10 (September 11, 2013): 103001. DOI. © 2013 IOP Publishing. Used with permission.

Ronald A. Coutu, Jr. was affiliated with th Air Force Institute of Technology 2950 Hobson Way, WPAFB, OH at the time of publication.

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