In microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) switches, the microcontact is crucial in determining reliability and performance. In the past, actual MEMS devices and atomic force microscopes (AFM)/scanning probe microscopes (SPM)/nanoindentation-based test fixtures have been used to collect relevant microcontact data. In this work, we designed a unique microcontact support structure for improved post-mortem analysis. The effects of contact closure timing on various switching conditions (e.g., cold-switching and hot-switching) was investigated with respect to the test signal. Mechanical contact closing time was found to be approximately 1 us for the contact force ranging from 10⁻900 μN. On the other hand, for the 1 V and 10 mA circuit condition, electrical contact closing time was about 0.2 ms. The test fixture will be used to characterize contact resistance and force performance and reliability associated with wide range of contact materials and geometries that will facilitate reliable, robust microswitch designs for future direct current (DC) and radio frequency (RF) applications.
Keywords: Microcontact; Micromachining; Microswitch; Reliability; Test Fixture.