SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS
MATERIAL WORLD, DOMUS n 888 January 2006
What are you?
A family of about 100 metallic alloys with a crystalline structure. Only three, though, are of everyday practical use- nickel-titanium, copper-zinc-aluminium, copper-aluminium-nickel
WHAT DO YOU DO?
We are highly elastic and resistant to corrosion, but above all we are capable of “remembering” form. You can bend us into any position, but once heated we return to our original shape, which means that we can be used like small”muscles”. We can even memorise two distinct forms that correspond to two different temperatures.
WHO MADE YOU?
I was born in 1962 at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak (Mariland, USA), although Primitive forms of SMAs were already being developed in the ‘30s. Since the ‘90s they have been employed more widely in consumer goods.
WHERE CAN YOU FOUND?
In the frames of a new generation of eyeglasses that after being bent out of the shape can regain their original form when placed in hot water… in safety taps that automatically block sensor, thermostats, security system… in surgical applications…
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
In self-repairing bodywork of cars… in servos and diaphragms that automatically regulate light, heat and ventilation inhouses… in fireproof door that shut automatically… in buildings that adjust themselves according to the season… intelligent locks… in chairs and tables that can be bent out of shape and reformed a twill… in lamps that open and close on their own…