ECR Studies Across Bare And Gold Coated Metal Contacts At Low Temperatures
Electrical contact resistance (ECR) measurements are needed for judging the performance of electrical appliances. Understanding the behaviour of ECR at low temperature gives a unique opportunity for understanding the contact mechanism itself and controlling the contact resistance for its applications in various areas at these temperatures. In many high-end applications, sophisticated electronic devices are being operated below ambient temperature to improve their performance. The availability of cryogens, improvement in Thermo-Electrical (TE) based Peltier coolers, accelerated the development of these devices. In designing such systems, an accurate measurement of electrical contact resistance below room temperature is important. A detailed experimental investigation has been conducted on electrical contact resistance across bare and coated metal contacts at low temperatures. As a part of the experimental investigation, a test facility capable of varying the contact force, surrounding pressure and temperature, is developed. The design, construction, testing and use of this facility are described. Electrical contact resistance at different contact pressures across copper, OFHC copper and brass with and without gold coatings is measured using 4-wire technique with high accuracy. The test specimen preparation, instrumentation and data acquisition are explained in detail. The setup is standardized by comparing the experimental results obtained across copper-copper contacts in vacuum with the theoretical model. The electrical contact resistance is measured as a function of contact force at different temperatures. The effect of loading and unloading, and the existence of hysteresis are experimentally studied. The electrical properties of conductors improve at low temperature but this is not true for contact resistance. At low temperature the contact resistance increases and it depends on applied contact force, hardness and roughness of the contacting surfaces. Gold-coated contacts exhibited an increase in contact resistance at low temperatures.
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