Towards High-Frequency Shape Memory Alloy Actuators Incorporating Liquid Metal Energy Circuits Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017, ASM International. Large shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators are currently limited to applications with low cyclic actuation frequency requirements due to their generally poor heat transfer rates. This limitation can be overcome through the use of distributed body heating methods such as induction heating or by accelerated cooling methods such as forced convection in internal cooling channels. In this work, a monolithic SMA beam actuator containing liquid galliumindium alloy-filled channels is fabricated through additive manufacturing. These liquid metal channels enable a novel multi-physical thermal control system, allowing for increased heating and cooling rates to facilitate an increased cyclic actuation frequency. Liquid metal flowing in the channels performs the dual tasks of inductively heating the surrounding SMA material and then actively cooling the SMA via forced internal fluid convection. A coupled thermoelectric model, implemented in COMSOL, predicts a possible fivefold increase in the cyclic actuation frequency due to these increased thermal transfer rates when compared to conventional SMA forms having external heating coils and being externally cooled via forced convection. The first ever experimental prototype SMA actuator of this type is described and, even at much lower flow rates, is shown to exhibit a decrease in cooling time of 40.9%.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Hartl, D., Mingear, J., Bielefeldt, B., Rohmer, J., Zamarripa, J., & Elwany, A.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Hartl, Darren||Mingear, Jacob||Bielefeldt, Brent||Rohmer, John||Zamarripa, Jessica||Elwany, Alaa

publication date

  • January 2017