NiTiFe shape memory alloys can undergo transformations between cubic, trigonal and monoclinic phases at low temperatures. The low hysteresis associated with the trigonal R-phase transformation make them candidates for actuator applications at low temperatures. However, the literature available on these alloys is limited and there is a need to establish processing structure-property correlations. This study was undertaken with the objective of determining and understanding such correlations in a Ni46.8Ti50Fe3.2 alloy. First, a dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA) was successfully commissioned to facilitate mechanical testing between -150 and 600ºC. The experiments performed over selected ranges of stress and temperature probed a range of deformation phenomena in these materials. In addition to conventional elastic and dislocation based plastic deformation, also probed were stress-induced formation of the R- and martensite (B19') phases, and twinning in the R- and martensite (B19') phases. Constrained recovery experiments, wherein phase transformations were thermally induced against external loads, were also performed to assess the performance of these alloys in actuator applications. In addition to a DMA, a differential scanning calorimeter, liquid helium dilatometer and a transmission electron microscope were also used. The samples tested were subjected to different thermo-mechanical processing parameters (i.e., percentage of cold work, solutionizing, aging, and annealing time/temperature). Selected combinations of cold work and annealing temperature/times were found to result in narrower transformations (in temperature space), making such alloys of value in cyclic actuator applications. Thus this work contributed to further understand the processing-structure-property relationship in NiTiFe alloys that exhibit the R-phase transformation and in lowering the operating temperature range of shape-memory alloys in order for them to be used in hydrogen related technologies. The immediate benefit to NASA Kennedy Space Center is the development of a shape-memory thermal conduction switch for application in cryogenic liquefaction, densification and zero boil-off systems. This is being extended to include the potential use of shape-memory alloy actuator elements for cryogenic seals, valves, fluid-line repair, self-healing gaskets, and even to ambient debris-less separation and latch/release mechanisms. The financial support of NASA through grant NAG3-2751 is gratefully acknowledged.


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Graduation Date





Vaidyanathan, Raj


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering









Release Date

October 2018

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)