Novel Test Fixture for Studying Microcontact Reliability and Performance

Project by Protap Mahanta

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology is widely used in applications ranging from sensing to switching technology due to its low cost, low power consumption, and small geometries. Microswitches are an example of a MEMS technology that shows promising performances in direct current (DC) and radio frequency (RF) applications. However, reliability is of great concern for them to be ubiquitously used by the industry where the lifetime requirement is typically 1-10 billion cycles depending on the specific application. Microcontact surface tribology plays a crucial role in determining reliability and performance. A test fixture facilitates to study contact force, contact resistance, adhesion, and contamination associated with the microcontact. Currently, we are developing an improved microcontact support structure which enables a simple, quick, and easy post-mortem contact surface analysis. In addition, engineered micro-electrical contacts will be fabricated and tested using our novel test fixture for acquiring significant data to design a robust and reliable MEMS switch for future DC and RF applications.