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A relay is simply an electrically operated switch.

Relays can have any number of contacts in their design, but it is important for any power-transmitting contacts to be designed with special attention to arc wear resistance. Silver/Copper refractories are common contact materials in power relays since these materials exhibit far better resistance to arc erosion. With that said, the presence of a refractory metal will slightly decrease the conductivity of the contact, so higher contact pressures are often required to ensure a stable connection.