Comparison of physical properties of Ta-Cu-X contact materials with mixing of additives

Sung Gue Heo, Yeong Woo Cho, Yong Tak Lee, Jae Jin Sim, Taek Soo Kim, Soong Ju Oh, Seok Jun Seo, Kyoung Tae Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


W–Cu materials dominate the high-current electrical contact material market despite their limited machinability. This study investigates a potential alternative contact material, tantalum‑copper-X (Ta-Cu-X; X = tungsten carbide (WC) or cerium oxide (CeO2), in which Ta imparts excellent machinability and thermal resistance while the oxides and carbides impart excellent mechanical properties. CeO2 and WC were selected as additives owing to their favorable chemical stability. Ta-Cu-X powder mixtures were prepared in order to facilitate the incorporation of different ratios of additives into molded and sintered Ta–Cu composites with a Ta:Cu wt% ratio of 40:60. The electrical conductivity, arc resistance, and hardness of the resultant composites were investigated. The electrical and thermal conductivities of the composites decreased with increasing additive content; however, their hardness increased. An optimum combination of electrical conductivity (52.8% IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard)), thermal conductivity (194.2 W/m∙K), and hardness (163.5 HV) was demonstrated by the composite containing 0.5% CeO2; these properties compare favorably with those of commercially available electrical contact materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105670
JournalInternational Journal of Refractory Metals and Hard Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP), the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) of the Republic of Kore (grant number 20165010100870 and 202175100020 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Cerium oxide
  • Liquid-phase sintering
  • Ta-cu-X contact material
  • Tungsten carbide
  • Tungsten‑copper (W–cu) composite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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