Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Multiscale Electrical and Thermal Contact Resistance


Dr. Robert Jackson


Auburn University


Monday, February 18, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Richard Salant


All surfaces are rough at some scale. When surfaces are brought into contact, only their peaks or asperities are actually in contact. Electric current and heat flow between surfaces is then bottlenecked by these isolated contacts. This creates an additional obstacle for the electrical current and heat that is called contact resistance. Controlling contact resistance is critical in many applications, such as high power electrical connectors for hybrid vehicles and heat generating micro-electronics. Roughness occurs at many different scales on a surface (from a nanometer up to the scale of the entire contacting surface) The current work considers the multiscale nature of surface roughness and material properties in predicting the actual area of contact and contact resistance as functions of the applied load. Therefore the contact resistance problem is very complicated and many different models have been proposed over the years. The current model uses stacked 3-D sinusoids to represent the asperities in contact at each scale of the surface. The predictions of the model are compared to experimental measurements and also existing theoretical models. Some applications of the model are also presented.


Robert L. Jackson is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University. He received his PhD. degree in Mechanical Engineering, at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA, USA. Prof. Jackson received the 2011 ASME Burt L. Newkirk Award for notable contributions to the field of Tribology as indicated by significant publications before reaching the age of 40, the 2009 Captain Alfred E. Hunt Memorial Award for the best paper in the field of lubrication, and the 2009 Erle Shobert Prize Paper Award at the 55th IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts. In 2012, Prof. Jackson also initiated one of the first undergraduate minors in the field of Tribology.


Refreshments will be served.