Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Ronald A. Coutu, Jr., PhD.


Engineers have attempted to improve reliability and lifecycle performance using novel micro-contact metals, unique mechanical designs and packaging. Contact resistance can evolve over the lifetime of the micro-switch by increasing until failure. This work shows the fabrication of micro-contact support structures and test fixture which allow for micro-contact testing, with an emphasis on the fixture's design to allow the determination and analysis of the appropriate failure mode. The other effort of this investigation is the development of a micro-contact test fixture which can measure contact force and resistance directly and perform initial micro-contact characterization, and two forms of lifecycle testing for micro-contacts at rates up to 3kHz. In this work, two different designs of micro-contact structures are fabricated and tested, with each providing advantages for studying micro-contact physics. After fabrication was refined, three functioning fixed-fixed Au micro-contact support structures with contact radii of 4, 6, and 10 µm and two functioning fixed-fixed Ag micro-contacts were tested using the µN force sensor at cycle rates up to 3 kHz. Comparing the PolyMUMPs micro-contact support structure to the fixed-fixed micro-contact support structure, it was determined that the fixed-fixed micro-contact support structure is the best structure for studying the evolution of micro-contact resistance.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number