2020 Scholarship Winner Feature – Rishabh Chaudhary

University of Maryland Masters Student Receives $1,000 Philadelphia STLE Scholarship

Rishabh Chaudhary

Rishabh is a graduate student pursuing his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He works with Prof. Michael G. Pecht and Dr. Michael H. Azarian in comprehending the performance of electrical contacts present in connectors and switches, primarily when they undergo the fretting mechanism.

Fretting is the repetitive relative micro-scale motion between any two electrical contacts. It is caused by factors such as a change in the coefficient of thermal expansion of the mating materials, and external and electromagnetically induced vibrations. Due to prolonged fretting cycles between the contacts, they experience surface degradation, namely, surface wear, frictional polymerization, and corrosion. Consequently, these contacts, responsible for maintaining the electrical continuity in a system, fail due to increased electrical contact resistance offered by the insulating films formed between them. Rishabh focuses on mitigating these failures in radio-frequency switches, often operating at low normal loads of less than 50 gram-force, and performing up to 10 million fretting cycles. He has approached the solution in two ways. Firstly, he assesses and compares the protective effects of different thicknesses of gold plating (15, 30, and 40 micro-inches) on a nickel-palladium under-plate over a copper substrate. To minimize the use of gold, which is costly, he aims to evaluate the contacts’ fretting performance to recommend the pertinent gold thickness necessary for increased contact reliability over their useful functional life.

Rishabh’s research aims to compare some lubricants’ effectiveness over others and determine the failure mechanisms, causes, and effects that drive their performance. He looks forward to working in the electronics industry, specifically in electrical contacts, and sharing his experience and knowledge. He is skilled in design for reliability, root cause analysis, FMEA and FMECA, and reliability modeling and data analysis, all of which are a boon for a system’s reliable functioning over its intended functional life.