Experimental Validation of External Load Effects for Micro-Contacts under Low Frequency, Low Amplitude Alternating Current (AC) Test Conditions
The use of micro-contacts has been demonstrated in various radio frequency (RF) applications. However, the premature failure of such devices under alternating current (AC) operations is still a hurdle to further development. In this work, modified gray scale lithography is performed to fabricate two types of gold–gold (Au–Au) micro-contacts: hemispherical-planar and hemispherical-2D pyramid. The performance of these devices was investigated under low frequency, low amplitude AC conditions with external circuit loads. A custom-made experimental setup which uses various load configurations, controls the frequency of the applied voltage and modifies the cycle rate of switch operation to obtain the contact resistance as a function of number of cycles (up to 107 cycles). Nearly 87% of the tested devices (13 out of 15 hemispherical-planar micro-contacts) were found to be in good operational condition and passed the 10 million cycle mark successfully. A steady gain and large swing in the value of contact resistance was also observed near the end of all, but one, tests. Such changes in contact resistance were found to be permanent as none of the devices recovered completely. On the other hand, the hemispherical-2D pyramid micro-contact performed better than the planar one as it also passed 107 cycle mark with low and remarkably stable contact resistance throughout the testing span. This study suggests that micro-contacts with ‘engineered’ surface structures with external loads applied are a viable solution to premature failure and high contact resistance in micro-contacts under low frequency AC operations.
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