Fabrication and Characterization of Compositionally-Graded Shape Memory Alloy Films
Publication or External Link
The miniaturization of engineering devices has created interest in new actuation methods capable of high power and high frequency responses. Shape memory alloy (SMA) thin films have exhibited one of the highest power densities of any material used in these actuation schemes. However, they currently require complex thermomechanical training in order to be actuated, which becomes more difficult as devices approach the microscale. Previous studies have indicated that SMA films with compositional gradients have the added feature of an intrinsic two-way shape memory effect (SME). In this work, a new method for processing and characterizing compositionally-graded transformable thin films is presented. Graded NiTi SMA films were processed using magnetron sputtering. Single and multilayer graded films were deposited onto bulk NiTi substrates and single crystal silicon substrates, respectively. Annealing the films naturally produced a compositional gradient across the film-substrate or film-film interface through diffusion modification. The films were directly characterized using a combination of atomic force microscopy (AFM), x-ray diffraction and Auger electron spectroscopy. The compositional gradient was indirectly characterized by measuring the variation in mechanical properties as a function of depth using nanoindentation. The similarity of the indentation response on graded films of varying thickness was used to estimate the width of the graded interface. The nanoindentation response was predicted using an analysis that accounted for the transformation effects occurring under the tip during loading and the variation of elastic modulus resulting from the compositional gradient. The recovery mechanisms of the graded films are compared with homogeneous films using a new nanoscale technique. An AFM integrated with a heating and cooling stage was used to observe the recovery of inelastic deformation caused through nanoindentation. The graded films exhibited a two-way SME with a reduced hysteresis, while the homogeneous films exhibited the classical one-way SME. The fabrication and characterization techniques developed in this work have the potential to be applied to general graded and multi-layer film systems.