Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Paul E. Kladitis, PhD


RF MEMS switches are paramount in importance for improving current and enabling future USAF RF systems. Electrostatic micro-switches are ideal for RF applications because of their superior performance and low power consumption. The primary failure mechanisms for micro-switches with gold contacts are becoming stuck closed and increased contact resistance with increasing switch cycles. This dissertation reports on the design, fabrication, and testing of micro-switches with sputtered bi-metallic (i.e., gold (Au)-on-Au-(6.3at%)platinum (Pt)), binary alloy (i.e., Au-(3.7at%)palladium (Pd) and Au-(6.3at%)Pt), and ternary alloy (i.e., Au-(5at%)Pt-(0.5at%)copper (Cu)) contact metals. Performance was evaluated, in-part, using measured contact resistance and lifetime results. The micro-switches with bi-metallic and binary alloy contacts exhibited contact resistance between 1 - 2 ohms and, when compared to micro-switches with sputtered gold contacts, showed an increase in lifetime. The micro-switches with tertiary alloy contacts showed contact resistance between 0.2-1.8 and also showed increased lifetime. Overall, the results presented in this dissertation indicate that micro-switches with gold alloy electric contacts exhibit increased lifetimes in exchange for a small increase in contact resistance.

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