Significant Decrease in Thickness of Contaminant Films and Contact Resistance by Humidification

Terutaka TAMAI  Tetsushi KAWANO  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E77-C   No.10   pp.1614-1620
Publication Date: 1994/10/25
Online ISSN: 
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Issue on Recent Electromechanical Devices)
Category: Contact Reliability
humidification,  film thickness,  oxide film,  contact resistance,  Cu,  

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On the surface of contacts which are exposed to the atmosphere, the reaction with gases in the atmosphere produces contaminant films including oxides. The contact reliability is degraded by the contaminant films. Humidity in the atmospheric environment also influences on the surface of contacts. However, influence of humidity on the surface has not been clarified. In the present paper, influence of humidity on the Cu surface and the oxides (CuO + Cu2O) on it were studied with respect to the thickness of the oxide film and contact resistance characteristics both for static and for sliding contacts. The thickness was measured by ellipsometric analysis. Topographic image affected by humidification was also observed by scanning tunneling microscope (STM). In the atmospheric environment, the clean surface of Cu was found to oxidize with fluctuations of the thickness for lapse of exposure time due to the fluctuations of the humidity. It was also found that the thickness of the oxide film decreases immediately after the humidification, and increases under dehumidification. Changes in contact resistance affected by humidity was corresponding to the change in the film thickness. Immediately after humidification contact resistance decreased, and increased with dehumidification both for static and for sliding contacts. For the mechanism of the influence of humidity on the oxide, chemical reduction of hydrogen generated by decomposition of the absorbed water molecule (H2O) was derived. The clean Cu surface was oxidized by oxygen due to absorbed water molecule and atmosphere.