Theses Doctoral

Material Wear in Multilayered Separable Electrical Contacts: Modeling and Experimentation

Wang, Yuanyuan

In electrical contacts, thin films of nickel and gold or silver are traditionally plated on top of a copper base plate to provide corrosion resistance and wear protection. Most recently, the rising cost of noble metals and intensified competition in manufacturing technology has driven the industry towards thinner plating layers, which gives rise to questions regarding how interfacial contact and wear is affected by plating thickness and material characteristics. This study uses a combination of finite element analysis and ex-situ wear measurement to determine the effect of gold plating thickness on wear performance under linear reciprocating sliding contact. Correlations between predicted and measured results lead to insight into the stress state within the multi-layer system under contact conditions as well as a wear map for gold platings that can be used to inform future connector designs. The middle layer material, Ni, is relatedly inexpensive, but takes a relatively long time to deposit. Because this deposition time has a direct influence on the cost of manufacturing, it is important to reduce the Ni thickness as well. This project thus determines how different combinations of Ni and Au properties influence wear and subsurface layer exposure, which is critical for determining the makeup of future, low-cost, connector designs.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Terrell, Elon Jahdal
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 28, 2015