Report

Ultralow-fatigue shape memory alloy films

Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 1004-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261164

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Memory alloys that avoid exhaustion

Shape memory alloys can pop back into shape after being deformed. However, often these alloys cannot cope with a large number of deformation cycles. Chluba et al. find an alloy that avoids this pitfall, deforming 10 million times with very little fatigue (see the Perspective by James). Such low-fatigue materials could be useful in a plethora of future applications ranging from refrigerators to artificial heart valves.

Science, this issue p. 1004; see also p. 968

Abstract

Functional shape memory alloys need to operate reversibly and repeatedly. Quantitative measures of reversibility include the relative volume change of the participating phases and compatibility matrices for twinning. But no similar argument is known for repeatability. This is especially crucial for many future applications, such as artificial heart valves or elastocaloric cooling, in which more than 10 million transformation cycles will be required. We report on the discovery of an ultralow-fatigue shape memory alloy film system based on TiNiCu that allows at least 10 million transformation cycles. We found that these films contain Ti2Cu precipitates embedded in the base alloy that serve as sentinels to ensure complete and reproducible transformation in the course of each memory cycle.

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