Improving the power handling capability of direct contact RF MEMS switches requires a knowledge of conditions at the contact. This paper models the temperature rise in a direct contact RF MEMS switch, including the effects of electrical and thermal contact resistance. The maximum temperature in the beam is found to depend strongly on the power dissipation at the contact, with almost no contribution from dissipation due to currents in the rest of the switch. Moreover, the maximum temperature is found to exceed the limit for metal softening for a significant range of values of thermal and electrical contact resistance. Since local contact asperity temperature can be hundreds of degrees higher than the bulk material temperature modeled here, these results underscore the importance of understanding and controlling thermal and electrical contact resistance in the switch.

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