A research team at the Rutgers University has developed a category of high-strength metal alloys that can create tiny flexible springs, sensors and switches.
The alloys could be used in springier blood vessel stents, sensitive microphones, powerful loudspeakers, and components that boost the performance of medical imaging equipment, security systems and clean-burning gasoline and diesel engines. The alloys are deployed in turbine blades and other components that require strength under harsh environments, but the research team has been examining new characteristics.
According to Armen Khachaturyan, professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering, their computer modeling of these devices showed the products could be extremely malleable. He has been working in collaboration with a postdoctoral research student Weifeng Rao. They reported in the journal Physical Review Letters of March 11 that these metals having embedded nanoparticles can be highly elastic or springy. They will be able to convert electrical and magnetic energy into movement or alternate movement into mechanical energy. Such materials are called "functional" materials.
Some materials produce an electrical voltage when it is bent or compressed. But when it is placed in an electric field, it loses its shape. This type of material is called piezoelectric, and is deployed in ultrasound tools and audio equipment, auto focus tools used in camera lenses and cartridge sprays used in inkjet printers. These materials have been deployed in naval sonar systems. Other applications include pumps and optical apparatus, ultrasonic devices in the medical and industrial sectors, and vibration and noise monitors.