Modeling thermal contact resistance at the finger-object interface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Thermal contact resistance at the finger-object interface plays a significant role in our thermal perception and is an important parameter for the design of a myriad of electronics and thermal devices. Currently, its value is measured experimentally or, more commonly, is estimated using a semi-empirical model. This model was developed by Cooper, Mikic, and Yovanovich (CMY) in the 1960s for predicting contact resistance of metal-metal interfaces in a vacuum. In this work, it is shown that measured value of finger-object contact resistance is better predicted by a more recent correlation by Prasher and Matayabas (PM) that was developed by fitting contact resistance data for silicone gel-metal surface interfaces in microelectronic applications. Furthermore, it is show that the functional form of the empirical PM correlation can be derived using scale analysis of the finger-solid contact scenario, consequently can be considered a physics-based model. Comparing the two models against two previously published experimental data sets demonstrates that the PM model predicts well the thermal resistance between finger and variety of materials over a wide range of contact pressures. Specifically, for finger contact with significantly more conductive materials (thermal conductivity above 1 Wm−1K−1) including aluminum, BaF2 crystal, and marble a good prediction of contact resistance can be attained. For skin contact with less conductive materials, such as wood, both models become highly sensitive to the substrate’s thermal conductivity value and provide only an order of magnitude estimate. The main implications of these results and relevant outstanding questions are also briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-95
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Contact resistance
  • finger
  • heat transfer
  • modeling
  • skin
  • soft materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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