Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Publication Date



Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

Source Publication

2014 IEEE 60th Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts (Holm)

Source ISSN



This paper experimentally explores thin film micro-contact pairs of Au-Au, Au-Ru and Au-RuO 2 through the utilization of thin-film contact resistance and spreading resistance theory. Contacts of various combinations of material pairs, including evaporated Au lower planar contact and sputtered Au, Ru or Au-RuO 2 upper hemispherical contact were fabricated and their performance monitored through many cycles of actuation. The micro-contacts were actuated using an external, calibrated point load and cycled between 1 and 10 7 cycles in a controlled atmosphere. To examine the micro-contact performance, the contact resistance and force required to close the contacts were monitored simultaneously throughout testing. Overall performance of these devices followed current models reasonably well, but did show some degree of variation from predicted behavior using standard elastic and plastic material deformation model based predictions of contact resistance. Thin film spreading resistance theories provide a possible explanation for these observed variations and using this theory may also allow for explanations of other observations such as material transfer and micro-contact failure. Better understanding of the physics driving this and the manner in which these devices behave is a necessary step for optimizing micro-switch designs to survive greater cycling and provide more predictable and reliable operations. When compared to data that is free from error induced by other factors (such as contamination film) addition of spreading resistance theory improves the ability to predict contact resistance. In the case of Au-Ru contact pairs values have been measured as low as ~ 0.2Ω. Without spreading resistance,


Accepted version. Published as a part of 2014 IEEE 60th Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts (Holm) (October 12-15, 2014). DOI. © 2014 Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Used with permission.

Ronald A. Coutu was affiliated with Air Force Institute of Technology at the time of publication.

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