Surface Erosion of Low-Current Reed Switches

Surface Erosion of Low-Current Reed Switches



The erosion model of the surface coatings of reed switches considering different physicochemical processes occurring on the contact surfaces and inside the inter-electrode gap was proposed. According to that, the discrete electron avalanche (ecton) introduced in the explosive electron emission theory by Mesyats is considered as the main motive force responsible for the surface modification and mass transfer of materials in the course of breaking/shorting of the contacts. By means of SEM imaging and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis of the contact surfaces after various numbers of switching cycles, the energy threshold of the ecton generation defining the erosion stability of the coatings was found to be proportional to the specific sublimation and ionization energies of coating materials. It has been shown that the total erosion of the coatings on the working surface of the contacts after the commutation test possess the resultant character; i.e., the specificities of erosion occurring after each commutation event are characteristic for the whole of the commutation test. In further development of our model, we suggested that a few monolayers of metals (or alloys) with low ionization potential deposited on the main coatings can improve the erosion stability of contacts.

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