STLE Section Awards Scholarship to University of Maryland Graduate Student
The Philadelphia Section of the STLE is pleased to award a scholarship to Lovlesh Kaushik, a master’s student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland.
Selecting the right lubricant for electrical contact applications is a challenge because of the effect that lubricants can have on electrical performance over the life of the contact. Lovlesh’s Master’s thesis research aims to compare selected lubricants and determine whether certain physical or chemical properties of the lubricant are correlated with the observed performance of gold plated electrical contacts. It involves identifying the effects of unaged and aged lubricants on the performance of contacts through the study of electrical contact resistance (ECR) as a function of normal contact force under stationary conditions, and the study of ECR and friction coefficient over fretting cycles under sliding conditions.
The contacts under study are used in an electrical switch application. Lubricants have been chosen from several classes – Perfluoropolyethers (PFPE), Polyalphaolefins (PAO), and mineral oils – which are commonly used lubricant types for electrical contact applications. Stationary condition tests for PFPE and mineral oil based lubricants have been completed. Tests with aged lubricants and under sliding conditions are planned for the next stage of research. The outcomes of this project will guide selection of lubricant for the given application, and also establish principles for systematic lubricant selection for electrical contact applications in general.