PerspectiveApplied Physics

The Material Is the Machine

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 53-54
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100892

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Efforts are under way to manufacture electromechanical devices at ever smaller sizes. However, standard semiconductor technology places limits on how small such machines can be. In their Perspective, Bhattacharya and James explain how martensitic materials--which can distort reversibly without any diffusion taking place--may overcome this problem. Theoretical studies and preliminary experiments suggest that such materials can act as machines themselves, without the need for complicated construction of moving parts in the device.