To connect terminals in a cyber–physical system, large quantities of electrical contacts are used. In order to guarantee a high reliability of the system, the lifetime of the electrical contacts should be very long. Thus, it is of great importance to understand the failure mechanism and then to predict the lifetime of the electrical contacts. For the applications under high thermal and/or mechanical loads, noble plating is a good choice, considering its inertness to oxidation. For noble plating, one of the most critical failure mechanisms is the fretting wear. Wear debris generated in the contact area, acting as the third bodies, will greatly influence the further wear behavior and electrical performance. In this study, the state of the art regarding third bodies is firstly reviewed, and then the influence of the third bodies on the wear and electrical performance is investigated, from the aspects of lifetime and the element distributions in contact area. Finally, an example of prediction of the wear of noble plating is shown with the consideration of the third bodies. Based on this study, by involving the third bodies, the wear of noble plating can be predicted with a higher accuracy.
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