Smart materials are capable of adapting self-sufficiently to changing environments respectively changing their characteristics specifically to external effects in order to adjust to their surrounding. Thus, they allow high functionality in simplified structures which allows breaking new ground in product design. Instead of hitherto separation of function and structure, smart³ aims at integration functionality into the material's structure.
Thermal shape memory alloys (SMA)
Thermal shape memory alloys are capable of changing their form specifically to a thermal stimulus. Autonomously they react to an external impulse in a pre-defined way, reliable, repeatable and reversable. Furthermore, they offer light weight compared to their power density. Thus, they enable smart solutions for several actuating and sensing tasks.
So, shape memory alloys can simplify sensors, actuators and drives, expand their functional range and enable new product generations, for example in automotive, aviation or medical engineering.
By appliyng mechanical force, piezo ceramics show a separation of charge. By deforming the material, electrically charged areas occur at opposite sided of the material. Furthermore, these smart materials react extremely fast and allow the stimulation of high-frequency vibrations up to gigahertz range. Thus, piezo ceramics can be used as ultrasonic converter and as electromagnetic transformers. Off-the-shelf applications of piezo ceramics can be found in the automotive, for example as injectors for economical motors, or as ultrasonic sensors in medical engineering.
Magnetic Shape Memory Alloyshe Formgedächtniswerkstoffe (MSM)
By appliyng magentic force, the shape of MSM can be changed by up to 12 %. Thus, these seminal smart materials are predestined for use as actuators, sensors or for generating small amounts of electric energy.
Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEA)
Being part of electroactive polymers, DEA can be used as actuators, sensors or for energy harvesting. They are light-weight and compact, operating fast and silent.
Energy harvesting modules that generate electric energy from vibrations can be made from DEA. These modules offer predicted efficiency of more than 80 %. Thus, they by far superior conventional technologies and solar modules.
The smart materials database provides thorough insights into three of the smart materials used at smart³. Developed in the Smart Tools for Smart Design R&D project, the database provides information on shape memory alloys, pieco ceramics and dielectric elastomeres.