Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
This paper presents a method for selecting metal alloys as the electric contact materials for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) metal contact switches. This procedure consists of reviewing macro-switch lessons learned, utilizing equilibrium binary alloy phase diagrams, obtaining thin film material properties and, based on a suitable model, predicting contact resistance performance. After determining a candidate alloy material, MEMS switches were designed, fabricated and tested to validate the alloy selection methodology. Minimum average contact resistance values of 1.17 and 1.87 Ω were measured for micro-switches with gold (Au) and gold–platinum (Au–(6.3%)Pt) alloy electric contacts, respectively. In addition, 'hot-switched' life cycle test results of 1.02 × 108 and 2.70 × 108 cycles were collected for micro-switches with Au and Au–(6.3%)Pt contacts, respectively. These results indicate increased wear with a small increase in contact resistance for MEMS switches with metal alloy electric contacts.
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