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23-06-2020 | Companies + Institutions | News | Article

Researchers Look for New Materials for Shape-Memory Actuators

Patrick Schäfer
1 min reading time

Scientists at the Jade University of Applied Sciences want to develop new shape-memory actuators for the automotive sector with control elements made from a new combination of materials.

As part of the research project named "Qualification and Use of Copper- and Aluminium-Based Shape-Memory Actuators for Applications in the Automotive and Aerospace Industry", researchers at the Jade University of Applied Sciences are looking at new potential compositions for actuators. The joint project is being run in collaboration with the Institute for Tool Research and Materials (IFW) and industry business partners and is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The purpose of an actuator is to convert electric or thermal energy into mechanical movements. Until now, they have been produced using a combination of at least one metal and another material. The most common combination is currently a compound made of nickel and titanium. These shape-memory alloys can be deformed into completely new shapes before finally returning to their original form.

Disadvantages of shape-memory actuators

"Despite these advantages, the use of shape-memory actuators in the automotive sector remains limited," says project lead Dr Karsten Oehlert. This is due to several factors, namely that they are too expensive, must not reach temperatures above 90°C and they take too long to cool down. The researchers now want to develop shape-memory actuators based on a compound of copper and aluminium in order to minimise these disadvantages. "We will also investigate whether conventional structures can be made using the new alloys and what the service life of a copper-aluminium compound is," Oehlert says.

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