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Proceedings Paper

Improved contact resistance stability in a MEMS separable electrical connector
Author(s): M. P. Larsson
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Paper Abstract

A MEMS in-line separable electrical connector with improved contact resistance stability to thermal fluctuations and mating cycles is described. The design allows sliding, in-line connection between separate halves, inducing vertical deflections on a set of flexible conductors to establish stable electrical contacts. Features are present on both halves to ensure precise lateral and vertical self-alignment; preventing shorts and maintaining consistent conductor deflections. Characterisation on early prototypes revealed significant variability in contact resistance with thermal fluctuations and mating cycle history. As flexible conductors are multi-layered structures of Au supported by a thick structural layer of Ni, they undergo differential thermal expansion, introducing variability in contact resistance with temperature. Sliding contact wear during repeated mating leads to removal of portions of the Au surface coating, and electrical contact between underlying (non-noble) Ni layers. By using a harder Co-Au alloy as the contact surface layer and modifying the arrangement of constituent conductor layers to balance thermal stresses, improvements to both wear and thermal tolerance of contact resistance can be obtained. Devices implementing the above design modifications show stable contact resistance over 100 mating cycles and an increase in contact resistance of between 3.5 and 7% over a temperature rise of 60°C. The electrical performance improvements increase the attractiveness of the MEMS in-line separable connector concept for applications in portable electronics and MEMS integration.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 January 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6035, Microelectronics: Design, Technology, and Packaging II, 60350V (5 January 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.638330
Show Author Affiliations
M. P. Larsson, Imperial College London (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6035:
Microelectronics: Design, Technology, and Packaging II
Alex J. Hariz, Editor(s)

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