Work output is comparable to conventional SMA alloys but with transition temperatures significantly exceeding those of conventional materials.

Compositions and production processes have been developed for making NiTi-based shape-memory alloys (SMAs) that can be tailored for use as actuator materials at temperatures exceeding those of conventional alloys. Whereas conventional shape-memory alloys are limited to use at temperatures well below 100 °C due to low transformation temperatures, these high-temperature shape-memory alloys (HTSMAs) have transformation temperatures exceeding 300 °C while maintaining many of the other attributes associated with NiTi alloys, most importantly high work output (see Figure 1). Other attractive properties of this family of NiTiPt HTSMAs include usefully high values of tensile ductility, relatively narrow hysteresis, good oxidation resistance up to 600 °C, and excellent thermal and dimensional stability. Just as important, these alloys can be readily processed into various structural forms such as thin rod and fine-diameter wire by conventional processes (see Figure 2). These materials hold promise for expanding the variety of applications in which SMAbased actuators could be used.

The compositions of the present alloys can be summarized generally as

xTi + yPt + zM + (bal.)Ni,

where

  • M is one or more of Au, Pd, and Cu;
  • x, y, and z are atomic percentages;
  • x lies between 50 and 52;
  • y lies between 10 and 25;
  • z lies between 0 and 5;
  • and optionally, as explained below, the general composition described thus far can be modified by microalloying with C.
Figure 1. Strain Versus Temperature was measured for a specimen of an SMA alloy of the present invention at several different constant applied stress levels. The data for the stress level of 257 MPa,for example, indicate that the alloy was capable of a strain recovery >2 percent without significant/permanent deformation, providing a repeatable specific work output of nearly 5.9 J/cm3 at temperatures greater than 250 °C.

Ti-rich Ti-Ni-Pt alloys, including ones of the present type, are multi-constituent materials consisting of a Ti2(Ni,Pt) phase within a Ti(Ni,Pt) matrix that is capable of undergoing a thermoelastic martensitic transformation (which is the desired shape-memory transformation). Ti2(Ni,Pt) forms as a coarse interdendritic structure during melting and is undesired because it affords no benefit; is not amenable to modification or suppression through heat treatment; tends to embrittle the alloy, thereby making thermomechanical processing more difficult; and reduces the fatigue life, the fracture strength, and the martensite volume fraction of the alloy. However, a small amount of Ti2(Ni,Pt) phase is tolerable by keeping x fairly close to 50 at.%.

Figure 2. This NiTiPt HTSMA 20-mil (0.5-mm) DiameterWire was developed for high-force, high-temperatureactuator applications

Furthermore, the Ti2(Ni,Pt) phase can be significantly reduced in volume fraction or even eliminated by deoxidation of the melt through the introduction of controlled amounts of C, CO, or simply by using a graphite crucible during melting. In addition to suppressing the Ti2(Ni,Pt) phase, this type of treatment will result in micron-size TiC particles and submicron particles of a new Tirich NiTiPt intermetallic phase that is amenable to heat treatment by typical solution and precipitation processes.

In general, alloys of this type can be produced by essentially any melting process, such as arc melting, induction melting, and vacuum arc remelting. The cast ingots are homogenized, typically for 72 hours at 1,050 °C in vacuum, and then subjected to thermomechanical processing. These alloys are amenable to such conventional processes as rolling, extrusion, swaging, forging, and drawing. A preferred process for making thin rod or wire includes multiple hot extrusion at temperatures above 800 °C, which can be followed by cold drawing to produce fine diameter wire. Final actuator properties are optimized in such materials through a combination of cold work, heat treatment, and training. (As used here, “training” is a term of art signifying a subprocess in which an SMA is subjected to additional thermomechanical processing.) In principle, it should also be possible to make thin films of these alloys by sputtering.

This work was done by Ronald D. Noebe, Susan L. Draper, and Michael V. Nathal of Glenn Research Center, and Anita Garg of Amber Research Corp.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

NASA Glenn Research Center
Innovative Partnerships Office
Attn: Steve Fedor
Mail Stop 4–8
21000 Brookpark Road
Cleveland
Ohio 44135.

Refer to LEW-18054-1.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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