Micromechanical switches for RF communications often use gold as a contact material. While significant data exists for such contacts at contact forces larger than 200 mN and smaller 1 mN, little data exists at medium forces between these extremes. Moreover, previous studies have been unclear about the use of contact heating, particularly since voltages less than 100 mV can cause significant heating. This paper presents contact resistance data for both heated and unheated contacts with force from 0.01 to 1000 mN. Without heating, 1–10 mN of force is required to produce low, predictable resistance. However, with heating, forces as small as 0.05 mN produce low-resistance contacts, suggesting that contact heating is a valuable tool in removing insulating films and creating low-resistance, predictable contacts.

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