The last decade has witnessed the discovery of materials combining shape memory behavior with ferromagnetic properties (FSMAs), see James & Wuttig1, James et al.2, Ullakko et al.3. These materials feature the so-called giant magnetostrain effect, which, in contrast to conventional magnetostriction is due motion of martensite twins. This effect has motivated the development of a new class of active materials transducers, which combine intrinsic sensing capabilities with superior actuation speed and improved efficiency when compared to conventional shape memory alloys.
Currently, thin film technology is being developed intensively in order to pave the way for applications in micro- and nanotechnology. As an example, Kohl et al., recently proposed a novel actuation mechanism based on NiMnGa thin film technology, which makes use of both the ferromagnetic transition and the martensitic transformation allowing the realization of an almost perfect antagonism in a single component part. The implementation of the mechanism led to the award-winning development of an optical microscanner. Possible applications in nanotechnology arise, e.g., by combination of smart NiMnGa actuators with scanning probe technologies.
The key aspect of Kohl's device is the fact that it employs electric heating for actuation, which requires a thermo-magneto-mechanical model for analysis. The research presented in this paper aims at the development of a model that simulates this particular material behavior. It is based on ideas originally developed for conventional shape memory alloy behavior, (Mueller & Achenbach, Achenbach, Seelecke, Seelecke & Mueller) and couples it with a simple expression for the nonlinear temperature- and position-dependent effective magnetic force. This early and strongly simplified version does not account for a full coupling between SMA behavior and ferromagnetism yet, and does not incorporate the hysteretic character of the magnetization phenomena either. It can however be used to explain the basic actuation mechanism and highlight the role of coupled magnetic and martensitic transformation with respect to the actuator performance. In particular will we be able to develop guidelines for desirable alloy compositions, such that the resulting transition temperatures guarantee optimized actuator performance.