Niti-based Shape Memory Alloys: Relating Physical Deformation Mechanisms and the Wide Hysteresis

Open Access
Lanba, Asheesh
Graduate Program:
Engineering Science and Mechanics
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 05, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Reginald Felix Hamilton, Dissertation Advisor
  • Reginald Felix Hamilton, Committee Chair
  • Charles E Bakis, Committee Member
  • Bernhard R Tittmann, Committee Member
  • Allison Michelle Beese, Committee Member
  • Shape Memory Alloys
  • Martensitic Transformation
  • Hysteresis
  • Microstructure
  • Digital Image Correlation
  • NiTiNb
This work aims to experimentally establish processing-structure-property relationships in wide-hysteresis NiTiNb shape memory alloys. Manufactures supplied custom composition cast materials and off-the-shelf deformation processed (i.e. small diameter rods and thin sheets) NiTiNb alloys, and thus different extents of processing are studied. Microstructure characterization of these materials highlights the impact of processing on micro-constituent morphology. Thermo-mechanical experiments are conducted in order to contrast the mechanical and shape memory properties. Micro-deformation measurements are employed to visualize strain localization associated with the differently processed microstructures. Mechanistic and phenomenological rationale are developed that correlate the micro-constituent morphology and its interaction with the underlying martensitic phase transformation to the mechanical and shape memory behavior. The cast and deformation-processed NiTiNb microstructures are characterized via electron and acoustic microscopy. The microstructures are also altered via annealing. The cast microstructure reveals that the addition of Nb as a ternary element in NiTi results in a microstructure with β particles which are primarily Nb in a eutectic mixture with the α NiTi(Nb) phase. The eutectic mixture is cellular-like with areas of α NiTi(Nb) matrix material in between. The martensitic transformation, which is a reversible diffusionless crystallographic phase change that can be thermally- or stress-induced between a high temperature austenitic phase and low temperature martensitic phase, only takes place in this matrix. Two different deformation-processed alloys are studied; a rolled sheet and an extruded rod. Deformation-processing breaks up the eutectic structure resulting in a composite microstructure with discontinuous aligned second phase Nb-rich β-particle reinforcements. Annealing causes the Nb-rich particles to grow, and also increases the inter-particle spacing in both cast and deformation processed alloys. The shape memory behavior, characterized via thermal cycling with and without an external stress, and the mechanical properties, characterized from isothermal deformation to failure at different temperatures, are contrasted for cast and deformation-processed microstructures. The stress-free thermal cycling allows us to establish the characteristic transformation temperatures along with the elastic and irreversible energies associated with the transformation. Thermal cycling under load is used to characterize the transformation temperatures, thermal hysteresis, and the recoverable and permanent deformations. The isothermal deformation is used to contrast the stress-induced transformation and subsequent plastic deformation using the critical transformation stress and strain, elastic moduli, yield stress, and strain at failure. The work finds the experimental evidence correlating strain energy relaxation and widening of hysteresis and reverse transformation temperature interval. This comparative study between the cast and deformation processed alloys is augmented by undertaking a multi-scale deformation analysis including digital image correlation to measure micro-scale strain localizations. The strain localizations are characterized in-situ, and allow the comparison of the impact of different micro-constituents on the evolution of localized deformations during the stress-induced transformation and shape memory recovery. Localized regions of high strain accompany the stress-induced transformation in cast alloys that lead to fracture, whereas the stress-induced transformation region in processed alloys has no such strain concentrations. The micro-constituent morphology in both the cast and deformation-processed alloys cause martensite stabilization, however the deformation processed microstructure promotes larger irreversibility and shows evidence of strain energy relaxation that is missing in cast alloys. The eutectic boundaries in the cast microstructure likely prohibit interaction of the martensitic transformation with the particles, and promote large strain localizations during the stress-induced transformation. Such boundaries are missing in the deformation-processed composite microstructure, and thus the particles interact more with the martensitic transformation that leads to the larger irreversibility, improved ductility and better mechanical properties.