Super-elastic shape-memory material
University of Connecticut researchers discovered a super-elastic shape-memory material that could use as an actuator in the rough conditions, such as outer space. The discovery might be a new class of shape-memory materials.
Generally, the shape-memory materials used in a wide range of consumer products, such as “unbreakable” frames for glasses. Materials with shape-memory properties can return to their original shape by magnetic forces or heat even after significantly natural shape.
Materials science and engineering professor Seok-Woo Lee studied calcium iron arsenide (CaFe2As2), an intermetallic compound. The material commonly used in high-temperature superconductors, extensive research had already examined the compound’s superconducting and magnetic properties.
With the help of previous studies on calcium iron arsenide’s electronic properties, the researchers measure the material’s high degree of pressure and strain sensitivity for potential applications as a structural material.
CaFe2As2 intermetallic compound
However, researchers discovered that CaFe2As2 exhibit the ability to “bounce” back into its original shape, it showed “giant super-elasticity.” While, normal intermetallic alloys recover 0.5% of the pre-deformation shape once the compressing force removed. While, the CaFe2As2 recovers more than 13%.
In addition to the crystal’s large ability, the team found an evidence of CaFe2As2 ultra-high strength and significant fatigue resistance, which guarantees structural performance and integrity if used as a structural material.
They also noted another unique property when testing CaFe2As2 at extremely cold temperatures. The existence of shape-memory effect confirms when tested at temperatures as low as 50 Kelvin. This could lead to the development of technologies that change shape at low temperatures for use in deep space travel.
“Our results applied in more than 400 similar materials. This discovery opens up an entirely new area of research on superelastic materials,” Lee says. “We see great potential for our findings to be applied by fellow scientists in future research and by industry in the development of new technologies.”
More information: [University of Connecticut]
Journal: [nature communications]