The paper reports the tests results of ruthenium contacts coatings of magnetically controlled MEMS switches. During the tests the contact resistance was measured and the lifetime of MEMS switches was evaluated. After testing the analysis of the form and contact surface structure using SEM-method was carried out. The experiment results showed that the application of ruthenium nanolayers as the contact coating at slight increase of the contact resistance improves the lifetime of MEMS switches considerably.
Nowadays the increase of the lifetime of all MEMS switch types (RF MEMS relays, magnetically controlled on-off MEMS switches) is the most actual problem. The work resource and operating characteristics, first of all, contact resistance, of any switching unit, the basis of the construction of which is a dry contact, are determined by the contact coating properties. This is true for MEMS switches too.
The paper presents the results of the study of the operating characteristics of magnetically controlled MEMS switches with ruthenium and gold contact coatings of up to 100 nm thickness. During tests the following switching mode was used: switching voltage – 3 V, current - 10 μA. Each MEMS switch was subjected to 100 million cycles switching at the frequency of 100 Hz. After testing the contact surface investigation by SEM-method and electrical characteristics measurement was carried out. The paper presents SEM-images of the contacts surface and statistical date of electrical characteristics.
After 100 million switching cycles MEMS switches with nanoscale ruthenium coating have shown 100% operating capacity; 16% of switches with gold contacts turned out to be inoperative due to electrical contacts sticking.
The results of researches by SEM-method show that the contacts without nanoscale coating have the traces of strong erosion and melting; the contacts with nanoscale ruthenium coating practically did not change the form and flatness.
So, the test results indicate that nanoscale ruthenium coatings of the electrical contacts provide excellent resource for the switches operation of hundred millions and more cycles.