Novel Test Fixture for Collecting Microswitch Reliability Data
Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Proceedings of SPIE 7592, Reliability, Packaging, Testing, and Characterization of MEMS/MOEMS and Nanodevices IX
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are an important enabling technology for reducing electronic component geometries and device power consumption. An example of MEMS technology, used in radio frequency (RF) circuits and systems, is the microswitch. Although the operation of microswitches is relatively simple, they are plagued by poor reliability - they must operate over 100 billion cycles. Improvements in the mechanical design of the microswitch have helped to increase their reliability but further improvements are necessary. To accomplish this, research needs to be conducted on the actual contact surfaces for investigation of the mechanical, thermal and electrical phenomena that affect reliability. The focus of this paper is the development of a unique high lifecycle test fixture capable of the simultaneous measurement of contact resistance and contact force. By incorporating a high resonance force sensor, cycle rates reaching 3kHz will be achieved enabling researchers to conduct a wide range of reliability studies. The fixture will be isolated from vibrations and will be housed in a dry-box enclosure to minimize contamination. The test fixture will be automated with control and data acquisition instrumentation to optimize data collection and test repeatability. It is predicted that this new test fixture will provide the potential for significant work to be done to improve the reliability of MEMS microswitches. Several tests were conducted using components of the new test fixture. Preliminary results indicate the feasibility and support the need for the continuing development of this new test fixture.