This paper presents a finite element approach for modeling a thermal-electrical-mechanical coupled-field contact comprised of an elastic hemisphere pressed against an elastic half-space. The goal of this investigation is to develop a fundamental understanding of the behavior of this multiphysics contact, with a particular interest on the contact area through which current flows. The results from the model illustrate a distinct difference in contact behavior between force control and displacement control in the presence of an applied electrical potential/current. It is shown that, while Hertz contact theory can be used to accurately predict the behavior of the contact under force control, a new relationship is established to accurately predict the behavior of the contact under displacement control.

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