Combinatorial Investigation of Ferromagnetic Shape Memory Materials

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Combinatorial synthesis is research methodology which allows one to systemically study a large number of compositionally varying samples simultaneously. We apply this technique to the investigation of multifunctional materials. Different designs of combinatorial libraries and various characterization tools are implemented in order to rapidly map composition-structure-property relationships in a variety of materials systems.

In this thesis, I will discuss combinatorial investigation of various shape memory alloys. We have utilized the combinatorial magnetron co-sputtering deposition technique for fabricating composition spreads of ternary alloy systems containing ferromagnetic shape memory alloys (FSMAs) and thermoelastic shape memory alloys (SMAs).

Magnetic properties of the composition spreads were rapidly characterized using a room temperature scanning semiconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) microscope which provides mapping of the magnetic field emanating from different parts of the composition spreads. By applying the inversion technique to the mapping of the magnetic field distribution, we have mapped the magnetic phase diagram of the Ni-Mn-Ga and Ni-Mn-Al systems whose Heusler compositions Ni2MnGa and Ni2MnAl are well known ferromagnetic shape memory alloys (FSMAs). In addition, a rapid visual inspection technique was developed for detection of reversible martensites using arrays of micromachined cantilevers. A large, previously unexplored compositional region of FSMAs outside the Heusler composition was found.

In search of novel FSMAs, we have also investigated a number of other ternary alloys systems. These systems included Ni-Mn-In, Gd-Ge-Si, Co-Mn-Ga, Ni-Fe-Al, and Co-Ni-Ga. A summary of the results from the investigation of these systems is presented. We have used the combinatorial technique to search for "ideal" SMAs with minimal hysteresis. For pursuing this, we had first set out to verify the geometric non-linear theory of martensites which predicts the conditions under which the "ideal" SMA can occur. This was facilitated by the composition spread investigation of the Ni-Ti-Cu system and the use of synchrotron x-ray microdiffraction. We found that one of the criteria prescribed by the theory for achieving minimal hysteresis is closely obeyed. We have demonstrated that we can indeed use the technique we have developed here together with the theory to explore SMAs with minimal hysteresis.