Shape Memory Alloys

Shape memory alloys change their shape when exposed to temperature variations. A structural transformation governs the shape change.  The shape memory alloy Nickel-Titanium (Ni-Ti), commonly referred to as Nitinol, finds applications in various products such as medical devices (e.g. stents, orthodontics), as high work-output actuators, and as fasteners to name.

Ni-Mn-Ga: An MSM Alloy

The alloy of Nickel, Manganese and Gallium (Ni-Mn-Ga) is a magnetic shape memory (MSM) alloy, which deforms over 6% when exposed to a variable magnetic field. The magneto-structural coupling through the magneto-crystalline anisotropy drives this MSM effect.  The MSM effect occurs in materials when two conditions are met:

Multiple twin domains, separated by twin boundaries, can exist within martensitic Ni-Mn-Ga. When sufficient magnetic-field-induced stress is applied to this material, the twin variant that is preferentially aligned to the magnetic field grows at the expense of other twin variants.  This change in the crystallographic orientation of the material is caused by a shear deformation process called twinning.

Properties of the MSM Alloy Ni-Mn-Ga

The MSM Micropump

The first generation MSM micropump

The MSM micropump utilizes a heterogenous magnetic field from a diametrically magnetized permanent magnet to locally strain the material nearest to the poles of the magnet.  The resulting small cavity follows the poles of the magnet as it rotates driven by an electromotor.  The MSM micropump captures this motion by placing the material within a microfluidic channel.  The MSM micropump operates in both directions, works against a high head pressure, and transports gasses and fluids, thus it is self-priming. The MSM micropump is the ideal solution for many microfluidic tasks in biomedical and microbiological research, in nano-manufacturing, and many other high-tech fields.

Microbioreactor created by the first generation MSM micropump


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