Review on Switches for Power Applications: Macro to Micro

Author(s): Femi Robert*.

Journal Name: Recent Advances in Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Formerly Recent Patents on Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Volume 12 , Issue 3 , 2019

Become EABM
Become Reviewer

Graphical Abstract:


Background: Switches are important component in electrical system. The switches needs to have the advantages of low ON-state resistance, very high OFF-state resistance, high isolation, no leakage current, less power loss, fast switching, high linearity, small size, arcless and low cost in bulk production. Also these switches have to be reliable and environmental friendly.

Methods: In this paper, macro and microswitches for power applications are extensively reviewed and summarized. Various types of switches such as mechanical, solid-state, hybrid and micromechanical switches have been used for power applications are reviewed. The importance and challenge in achieving arcless switching is presented.

Results: The use of micromechanical switches for power applications, actuation techniques, switching modes, reliability and lifetime are also reviewed. The modeling and design challenges are also reviewed.

Conclusion: The applications of micromechanical switches shows that the switches can reduce the leakage current in battery operated systems and reduce the size of the system considerably.

Keywords: Mechanical switches, solid-state switches, micromechanical switches, arc, modeling, electrostatic actuation.

G.W. Dummer, and E. Davies, Electronic inventions and discoveries: Electronics from its earliest beginnings to the present day., United Kingdom: Institute of Physics Publishing, 1997.
L. Dryburgh, J. Hewitt, and J. Hewett, Signaling system: Protocol, architecture, and services., United States: Cisco Press, 2004.
T.R. Burkes, M.O. Hagler, M. Kristiansen, and J.P. Craig, A critical analysis and assessment of high power switches.Sothern Center for Electrical Engineering Education Inc St Cloud Fl., In: Defense Technical Information Centre, 1978.
H. Etal, “Solid State Switch”, 3339104, 1967.
D.A. Paice, K.E. Mattern, and W.E. Corp, Patent US4618906 - hybrid solid state/mechanical switch with failure protection, 1984.
C. Keimel, G. Claydon, and B. Li, "M.E, Valdes, “Microelectromechanical-Systems-Based switches for power applications", IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 48, pp. 1163-1169, 2012.
C.M. Leviton, “Switches”, Available at: OA_HTML/ SectionDisplay.jsp? section=37678 (Accessed: 28 June 2016).
R. Holm, Electric Contacts: Theory and application., Berlin: Springer-verlog, 2000.
P.G. Slade, Electrical Contacts: Principles and applications., CRC Press, 2013.
Advameg “Electromagnetically actuated switches patent application class”, Available at: class/000492377 (Accessed: 28 June 2016).
M.M. Atalla, "Arcing of electrical contacts in telephone switching circuits", Bell Syst. Tech. J., vol. 32, pp. 1231-1244, 1953.
W.S. Boyle, and P. Kisliuk, "Departure from Paschen’s law of breakdown in gases", Phys. Rev., vol. 97, pp. 255-259, 1955.
M.S. Abou-Seada, "Calculation of high-frequency breakdown voltages of point-to-plane air gaps", IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. IA-20, pp. 1627-1630, 1984.
J. Sekikawa, and T. Kubono, "Voltage-current characteristics of breaking arc at constant opening speed in the air", IEEE Trans. Compon. Packag. Tech., vol. 27, pp. 167-171, 2004.
R. Morel, M. Rival, H. Garcia, P. Miguet, and M. Gerin, Patent US5210385 - low voltage circuit breaker with multiple contacts for high currents, 1991.
N.A. Czarnecki, and R.C. Corporation, Patent US9054447 - Electrical connector using air heated by an electrical arc during disengagement of contacts to extinguish the electrical arc, 2013.
C. Andronachi, and D. Istrate, "Design and simulation of a network for testing a shunt switch", Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Modern Power System, pp. 5-9 2015
K. Sawa, M. Tsuruoka, and M. Morii, "Fundamental characteristics of arc extinction by magnetic blow-out at DC voltages (<500V", In: Proceedings of 60th IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts Conference San Diego, CA, USA 2014, pp. 1-6.
J. Li, M. Sumner, D.W. Thomas, and E. Christopher, "Non-contact Arc Study for DC power systems", In: Proceedings of 41st Annual IEEE Conference on Industrial Electronics Yokohama, Japan 2015, pp. 005113-005117.
K. Tseng, Y. Wang, and D.M. Vilathgamuwa, "An experimentally verified hybrid Cassie-Mayr electric arc model for power electronics simulations", IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 12, pp. 429-436, 1997.
R.F. Ammerman, T. Gammon, P.K. Sen, and J.P. Nelson, "DC-Arc models and incident-energy calculations", IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 46, pp. 1810-1819, 2010.
T.R. Hsu, "Miniaturization - A paradigm shift in advanced manufacturing and education", 2002, Available at: http://www.engr.sjsu. edu/trhsu/Miniaturization%20.pdf (Accessed: 9 June 2016).
Y.H. Song, and H.B. Yoon, Micro and nanoelectromechanical contact switches for logic, memory, and power applications.In: Nano Devices and Circuit Techniques for Low-Energy Applications and Energy Harvesting.Springer, Netherlands, . pp. 65-115, 2016.
P.G. Steeneken, and O. Wunnicke, “Performance limits of MEMS switches for power electronics”, In: Proceedings of 24th International Symbosium on Power Semiconductor Devices and ICs, Bruges, Belgium, 2007, pp. 417-420.
C.W. Van, Protective Relays their theory and practice., United Kingdom: Chapman and Hall, 1978.
S. Chih-Tang, Fundamental of Solid-State Electronics., London: World Scientific, 1994.
R.R. Boudreaux, and R.M. Nelms, "A comparison of MOSFETs, IGBTs, and MCTs for solid state circuit breakers", In: Eleventh Annual Conference Proceedings of Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition San Jose, CA, USA 1996, pp. 227-233.
M.H. Rashid, Power electronics: Circuits, devices, and applications., 2nd ed London: Prentice-Hall International, 1993.
N. Mohan, T.M. Undeland, W.P. Robbins, and T.M. Undel, Power electronics: Converters, applications and design, media enhanced., 3rd ed United States: John Wiley and Sons, 2003.
C. Meyer, M. Kowal, and R. Doncker, "Circuit breaker concepts for future high-power DC-applications", In: Proceedings of 40th IAS Annual Meeting and conference on Industry Applications Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, Vol. 2, 2006, pp. 860 - 866.
R. Kapoor, A. Shukla, and G. Demetriades, "State of art of power electronics in circuit breaker technology", In: Proceedings of IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition Raleigh, NC, USA 2012, pp. 615-622.
J. Mu, L. Wang, and J. Hu, "Analysis and design of topological structure for DC solid-state circuit breaker", In: Proceedings of World Non-Grid-Connected Wind Power and Energy Conference Nanjing, China 2009, pp. 1-5.
A.M. Atmadji, and J.G.J. Sloot, Hybrid switching: A review of current literature In: Proceedings of Energy Management and Power Delivery, Singapore, Singapore, Vol. 2, 1998, pp. 683-688.
J. Meyer, and A. Rufer, "A DC hybrid circuit breaker with ultra-fast contact opening and integrated Gate-Commutated Thyristors (IGCTs)", IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., vol. 21, pp. 646-651, 2006.
P. Theisen, S. Krstic, and C. Chen, "270-V Dc hybrid switch", IEEE Trans. Compon. Hybrids Manuf. Technol. Vol. pp. 97-100, 1986.
N.Y. Shammas, "Combined conventional and solid-state device breakers", Proceedings of IEE Colloquium on Power Semiconductor Devices. London, UK, 1994, pp.1-5.
J. Swingler, and J.W. McBride, "Micro-Arcing and arc erosion Minimization using a DC hybrid switching device", IEEE Trans. Compon. Packag. Tech., vol. 31, pp. 425-430, 2008.
R.F. Bielinski, J.R. Jaeschke, S. Krstic, E.T. Piber, and P.J. Theisen, Patent US4642481 - solid state hybrid switch, 1985.
A. Shukla, and G.D. Demetriades, "A survey on hybrid circuit-breaker topologies", IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., vol. 30, pp. 627-641, 2015.
X. Xia, S. Guo, W. Zhao, P. Xu, and H. Yu, "Carboxyl functionalized gold nanoparticles in situ grown on reduced graphene oxide for micro-gravimetric ammonia sensing", Sens. Actuators B Chem., vol. 202, pp. 846-853, 2014.
F. Khoshnoud, and C.W. Silva, "Recent advances in MEMS sensor technology-mechanical applications", IEEE Instrum. Meas. Mag., vol. 15, pp. 14-24, 2012.
S. Baglio, S. Castorina, and N. Savalli, Scaling issues and design of Microelectromechanical systems.United States., Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Wiley-Interscience, 2008.
Y. Zhou, “Microjoining and Nanojoining”, Woodhead Publishing Series in Welding and Other Joining Technologies, United States.
A. Persano, F. Quaranta, G. Capoccia, and E. Proietti, "Influence of design and fabrication on RF performance of capacitive RF MEMS switches", Microsyst. Technol., vol. 22, pp. 1741-1746, 2016.
G.M. Rebeiz, “RF MEMS: Theory, design, and technology”, United States: Wiley-Inter science, 2003.
P.M. Zavracky, N.E. McGruer, R.H. Morrison, and D. Potter, "Microswitches and microrelays with a view toward microwave applications", Int. J. RF Microw. Comput.-Aided Eng., vol. 9, pp. 338-347, 1999.
G.M. Rebeiz, C.D. Patel, and S.K. Han, "The search for a reliable MEMS switch", IEEE Microw. Mag., vol. 14, pp. 57-67, 2013.
F. Souchon, B. Reig, and C. Dieppedale, "Key improvements of the MEMS switch lifetime thanks to a dielectric-free design and contact reliability investigations in hot/cold switching operations", In: Proceedings of IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS Anaheim, CA, USA, 2013, pp. 6B.2.1-6B.2.8.
Radant MEMS (2003) Radant MEMS. Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2016).
J. Ruan, N. Nolhier, M. Bafleur, L. Bary, F. Coccetti, T. Lisec, and R. Plana, "Electrostatic discharge failure analysis of capacitive RF MEMS switches", Microelectron. Reliab., vol. 47, pp. 1818-1822, 2016.
R. Goggin, P. Fitzgerald, B. Stenson, E. Carty, and P. McDaid, "Commercialization of a reliable RF MEMS switch with integrated driver circuitry in a miniature QFN package for RF instrumentation applications", In: Proceedings of IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium Phoenix, AZ, USA, 2015, pp. 1-4.
General Electric (2016) GE MEMS for LTE advanced mobile devices. Available at: news/press-releases/ge-mems-switch-technology-demonstrates-performance-meet-demands-next-generation-true-4g-mobile-devices (Accessed: 9 June 2016).
M. Bachman, Y. Zhang, M. Wang, and G. Li, "High-power magnetically actuated microswitches fabricated in Laminates", IEEE Electron Device Lett., vol. 33, pp. 1309-1311, 2012.
Z. Yang, D. Lichtenwalner, A. Morris, J. Krim, and A. Kingon, "Contact degradation in hot/cold operation of direct contact micro-switches", J. of Micromech. Microeng.. Vol. 20, pp. 105028, 2010.
G.G. Karady, and G.T. Heydt, "Novel concept for medium voltage circuit breakers using Microswitches", IEEE Trans. Power Deliv., vol. 21, pp. 536-537, 2006.
B. Ma, Z. You, Y. Ruan, S. Chang, and G. Zhang, "Electrostatically actuated MEMS relay arrays for high-power applications", Microsyst. Technol., vol. 22, pp. 911-920, 2016.
P.M. Zavracky, S. Majumder, and N.E. McGruer, "Micromechanical switches fabricated using nickel surface micromachining", J. Microelectromech. Syst., vol. 6, pp. 3-9, 1997.
D.G. Khushalani, R.S. Pande, and R.M. Patrikar, "Fabrication and characterization of MEMS cantilever array for switching applications", Microelectron. Eng., vol. 157, pp. 78-82, 2016.
A.P. Lewis, J.W. McBride, and L. Jiang, "Evolution of voltage transients during the switching of a MEMS relay with au/MWCNT contacts", IEEE Transact. Compon. Packag. Manufact. Technol., vol. 5, pp. 1747-1754, 2015.
K. Park, S. Kang, H.S. Kim, C. Baek, and T.K. Chung, "Energy scavenging system utilising MEMS switch for power management", Electron. Lett., vol. 48, p. 948, 2012.
E.M. Yeatman, "Applications of MEMS in power sources and circuits", J. Micromech. Microeng., vol. 17, pp. S184-S188, 2007.
A. Raychowdhury, J.I. Kim, D. Peroulis, and K. Roy, "Integrated MEMS switches for leakage control of battery operated systems", In: Proceedings of IEEE Custom Intergrated Circuits Conference San Jose, CA, USA, 2013, pp. 57-460.
H. Shobak, M. Ghoneim, N.E. Boghdady, S. Halawa, S. Iskander, and M. Anis, “Power gating of VLSI circuits using MEMS switches in low power applications: ICM Proceeding, Hammamet, Tunisia, 2011, pp 1-5.
H. Kam, Y. Chen, and T. Liu, "Reliable micro-electro-mechanical (MEM) switch design for ultra-low-power logic", In: Proceedings of IEEE Reliability Physics Symposium Anaheim, CA, USA, 2013, pp. 1-6.
B.S. Satish, S. Shetty, S. Shafiuddin, and S.K. Shahabuddin, "Nanorelays-Power Driver of the Next Decade", In: Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Environment Science and Biotechnology Singapore, Vol. 48, pp. 161-168, 2012.
A. Basu, R. Hennessy, G. Adams, and N. McGruer, "Leading and trailing edge hot switching damage in a metal contact RF MEMS switch", In:Proceedings of 17th International Conference on Solid-state sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Singapore, 2013, pp. 514-517.
I. Kanno, Piezoelectric thin films for MEMS MEMS: Fundamental Technology and Applications., Taylor & Francis, 2013, pp. 41-68.
M. Yoichi, "Applications of piezoelectric Actuator", NEC Tech. J., vol. 1, pp. 82-86, 2006.
K.L. Kaiser, Electromagnetic Compatibility Handbook., CRC Press, 2005.
J. Lu, and S. Menard, Patent US8115576 - MEMS actuators and switches, 2006.
M.M. Shalaby, Z. Wang, L.L. Chow, and B.D. Jensen, "Robust design of RF-MEMS Cantilever switches using contact physics modeling", IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron., vol. 56, pp. 1012-1021, 2009.
Y.H. Song, C.H. Han, M.W. Kim, J.O. Lee, and J.B. Yoon, "An electrostatically actuated stacked-electrode MEMS relay with a levering and torsional spring for power applications", J. Microelectromech. Syst., vol. 21, pp. 1209-1217, 2012.
J.E. Wong, J.H. Lang, and M.A. Schmidt, "An electrostatically-actuated MEMS switches for power applications", In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems Miyazaki, Japan, pp. 633-638, 2000.
B.F. Toler, R.A. Coutu, and J.W. McBride, "A review of micro-contact physics for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) metal contact switches", J. Micromech. Microeng., vol. 23, no. 103001, 2013.
J. McKillop, and T.T. Inc, and Austin, “MEMS switch challenges”, Microw. J., pp. 1-3, 2007.
J.M. Kim, S. Lee, C.W. Baek, Y. Kwon, and Y.K. Kim, "Cold- and hot-switching lifetime characterizations of ohmic-contact RF MEMS switches", IEICE Electron. Express, vol. 5, pp. 418-423, 2008.
A. Basu, R.P. Hennessy, G.G. Adams, and N.E. McGruer, "Hot switching damage mechanisms in MEMS contacts-evidence and understanding", J. Micromech. Microeng.. Vol. 24, pp. 105004, 2014.
R.P. Hennessy, A. Basu, G.C. Adams, and N.E. McGruer, "Hot-switched lifetime and damage characteristics of MEMS switch contacts", J. Micromech. Microeng., vol. 23, no. 055003, 2013.
H.S. Newman, J.L. Ebel, D. Judy, and J. Maciel, "Lifetime measurements on a high-reliability RF-MEMS contact switch", IEEE Microw. Wirel. Compon. Lett., vol. 18, pp. 100-102, 2008.
R. Lee, Y. Chiou, and H. Chung, "Arc erosion behaviour of silver electric contacts in a single arc discharge across a static gap", IEE Proc. Sci. Meas. Technol., vol. 148, pp. 8-14, 2001.
Y.H. Song, M. Kim, S.J. Ahn, and J.B. Yoon, "Improvement of hot switching lifetime in MEMS DC switches using a drain voltage-sustaining capacitor", In: Proceedings of 17th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Barcelona, Spain, 2013, pp. 546-549.
A. Basu, R. Hennessy, G. Adams, and N. McGruer, "Reliability in hot switched ruthenium on ruthenium MEMS contacts", In: Proceedings of IEEE 59th Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts Newport, RI, USA, pp. 1-8, 2013.
P. Rumbach, and D.B. Go, "Fundamental properties of field emission-driven direct current microdischarges", J. Appl. Phys.. Vol. 112, pp. 103302, 2012.
V. Mulloni, J. Iannacci, R. Bartali, and V. Michel, "Gold-based thin multilayers for ohmic contacts in RF-MEMS switches", Microsyst. Technol., vol. 18, pp. 965-971, 2011.
R.A. Coutu, P.E. Kladitis, K.D. Leedy, and R.L. Crane, "Selecting metal alloy electric contact materials for MEMS switches", J. Micromech. Microeng., vol. 14, pp. 1157-1164, 2004.
T.W. Jau, RF MEMS switches: High- frequency performance and hot-switching reliability. High Frequen. Electron, . pp. 34-38, 2013.
R.C. Batra, M. Porfiri, and D. Spinello, "Review of modeling electrostatically actuated microelectromechanical systems", Smart Mater. Struct., vol. 16, pp. R23-R31, 2007.
A. Dewey, V. Srinivasan, and E. Icoz, "Visual modeling and design of microelectromechanical system transducers", Microelectronics J., vol. 32, pp. 373-381, 2001.
P. Schwarz, “Microsystem CAD: From FEM to system simulation”, In: Simulation of semiconductor processes and devices, Springer Link, pp. 141-148, 1998.
Y. Zhu, and H.D. Espinosa, "Reliability of capacitive RF MEMS switches at high and low temperatures", Int. J. RF Microw. Comput.-Aided Eng., vol. 14, pp. 317-328, 2004.
J.A. Sokolowski, and C.M. Banks, Modeling and simulation fundamentals: Theoretical underpinnings and practical domains.United States., Somerset, New Jersey, U.S.A.: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
R. Sinha, C. Paredis, V.C. Liang, and P. Khosla, "Modeling and simulation methods for design of engineering systems", J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng., vol. 1, pp. 84-91, 2001.
Y.B. Shi, W. Yin, J. Mao, P. Liu, and Q. Liu, "Transient Electrothermal analysis of multilevel Interconnects in the presence of ESD pulses using the Nonlinear time-domain finite-element method", IEEE Trans. Electromagn. Compat., vol. 51, pp. 774-783, 2009.
S. Eiser, M. Bernardoni, M. Nelhiebel, and M. Kaltenbacher, "Finite-element analysis of coupled Electro-Thermal problems with strong scale separation", IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 32, pp. 561-570, 2017.
C. Johnson, Numerical solutions of partial differential equations by the finite element method., United States: Dover Publications, 2009.
R. Femi R, "A. Agrawal A, S. Clement, “An FEM Study of the Electrothermal Properties of Microelectrical Contacts for Application in the Design of Arcless Switches", IEEE Trans. Compon. Packaging Manuf. Technol., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 407-417, 2016.
COMSOL Inc. (2014) Multiphysics simulation software - platform for physics-based modeling. Available at: https://www. (Accessed: 12 June 2016).
ANSYS (2016) Simulation driven product development. Available at: (Accessed: 28 June 2016).
Coventor Inc. (2016) COVENTORWARE. Available at: (Accessed: 28 June 2016).
S. Soul and S. Dey, “Radio frequency micro electro mechanical systems an overview”, Institute of smart structures and systems, vol. 2, pp. 27-75, 2013.
R. Wood, R. Mahadevan, V. Dhuler, B. Dudley, and A. Cowen, "MEMS microrelay", Mechatron., vol. 8, pp. 535-547, 1998.
K. Takahashi, O. Sakaguchi, T. Yamamoto, and H. Inaoka, "Investigation of contact materials in 42 VDC automotive relay", Proceedings of 50th IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts Seattle, WA, USA, USA, 2004, pp. 22-27.
C.O. Mathúna, N. Wang, S. Kulkarni, and S. Roy, "Review of integrated magnetics for power supply on chip (PwrSoC)", IEEE Trans. Power Electron., vol. 27, pp. 4799-4816, 2012.
O. Abedinia, N. Amjadya, and G. Noradin, "Solar energy forecasting based on hybrid neural network and improved metaheuristic algorithm", Comput. Intell., pp. 1-20, 2017.
M.S. Nasab, I. Maleksaeedi, M. Mohammadi, and N. Ghadimi, "A new multiobjective allocator of capacitor banks and distributed generations using a new investigated differential evolution", Complexity, vol. 19, pp. 40-54, 2014.
A. Ovieis, A. Ghasemi, and N. Ghadimi, "Modified harmony search algorithm based unit commitment with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles", J. Artif. Intell. Electric. Eng., vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 49-62, 2013.
Y.F. Michael, and P.M. John, “System and methods for MEMSbased cross-point electrical switching”, US Patent: US 9,868,631 B2, 2018.
Stanton Earl Wearer, Richard St-Pierre, Glenn Scott Claydon, System and Method for Fault Interruption with MEMS switches, US Patent: US 2018/0006445 A1, 2018.
R. Femi, A. Anita, C. Shibu, and A. Prince, "Investigation of microelectromechanical switches for next generation DC power distribution system", Int. J. Emerg. Electric Power Syst., vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 591-605, 2014.

Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

Year: 2019
Page: [200 - 209]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/2352096511666180518105734
Price: $58

Article Metrics

PDF: 21