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Multi-physical characterization of micro-contact materials for MEMS switches

Abstract : A systematic comparison between several pairs of contact materials based on an innovative methodology early developed at NOVA MEMS is hereby presented. The technique exploits a commercial nanoindenter coupled with electrical measurements, and test vehicles specially designed in order to investigate the underlying physics driving the surface-related failure modes. The study provides a comprehensive understanding of micro-contact behavior with respect to the impact of low- to medium levels of electrical current. The decrease of the contact resistance, when the contact force increases, is measured for contact pairs of soft material (Au/Au contact), harder materials (Ru/Ru and Rh/Rh contacts) and mixed configuration (Au/Ru and Au/Ni contacts). The contact temperatures have been calculated and compared to the theoretical values of softening temperature for each couple of contact materials. This threshold temperature is reached for gold, ruthenium and rhodium material, with different levels of current intensity. In spite of that, no oftening behavior has been observed for mixed contact at the theoretical softening temperature of both materials. Hence, considering the sensitivity to power handling and the related failure echanisms, namely the contact adhesion, the enhanced resilience of the bimetallic contacts Au/Ru and Au/Ni was demonstrated. Finally focusing on the temperature distribution around the hottest levels on the surface contact interface, these results have been theoretically investigated.
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  • HAL Id : hal-00670153, version 1

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Adrien Broué, J. Dhennin, Pierre-Louis Charvet, Patrick Pons, N. Ben Jemaa, et al.. Multi-physical characterization of micro-contact materials for MEMS switches. 56th IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts, Oct 2010, Charleston, United States. 10 p. ⟨hal-00670153⟩

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